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3 precautions for using wireless IP security cameras (Reader Forum)

Traditional analog CCTV camera systems are quickly losing favor, and IP cameras are taking their place. This is mostly because analog cameras produce low-resolution video while IP cameras produce high-resolution digital footage. Additionally, an IP camera allows for two-way communication between the camera and the recording device.

Although an IP security camera system produces higher-quality footage than a traditional CCTV system, there are several precautions to take when running your IP camera system.

  1. Use a dedicated computer if you’re not using an NVR

IP cameras typically connect to a Network Video Recorder (NVR), which is a standalone device that generally runs on Linux – a robust operating system with a virtually crash-free reputation. The NVR “records video provided by the IP cameras to a hard drive, either in HD (720p, 1080p), 2k HD, or Ultra HD (4k) depending on the type of NVR and type of camera that’s being used with it.”

Although recording to an NVR is the safest option, you can bypass the NVR and connect your IP camera directly to a computer, provided you install the correct software.

Computers can crash unexpectedly, and you can’t afford to take that risk with your security system. The computer you use to run your IP cameras should be dedicated to that purpose due to the large amount of resources it requires. The computer you use should be of high quality; not a cheap, used laptop from Craigslist.

Sometimes hackers sell refurbished laptops with backdoors and keystroke loggers installed. You can’t risk anyone getting the login information for your digital security system. Since IP cameras can be directly accessed like any other IoT device, this is a precaution you can’t skip.

  1. Never post videos of crimes to social media before calling police 

When you catch video of someone committing a crime — like stealing packages off your porch — it’s tempting to blast the video across Facebook and YouTube to find out who it is. Unfortunately, that strategy backfires for many people.

Although it doesn’t make logical sense, posting surveillance videos to social media can kill your case.

Police in Tacoma, Washington told the public that posting videos to Facebook ties their hands. They can catch the criminal, but if someone posts the video to social media, they can’t always use it in court.

The courts say posting a surveillance video before the investigation makes it impossible for police to identify an objective witness. If a piece of evidence prevents a criminal from getting a fair trial or hearing, that piece of evidence becomes inadmissible.

Before posting any portion of a security video to social media, contact police and let them know you want to post it. If they can’t identify the suspect and think it will help their case, they’ll tell you. Give them a chance to do their job, first. It doesn’t make logical sense but remember; the justice system doesn’t work according to logic — it works according to interpretation of the law. Even criminals have rights, and if those rights are violated, you may not have a case.

  1. Employ every security measure possible

While IP cameras provide the luxury of convenience and high-quality feeds, anything connected to a wireless network – internet or local – has the potential to be hacked.

Not long ago, the Mirai botnet, which consisted of thousands of hacked security cameras, crashed a significant portion of the internet through DDoS attacks. These security cameras, along with routers, smart televisions, and other IoT devices, were left unsecured by their owners, making them a prime target for a botnet attack.

Further demonstrating the issue, cybersecurity expert Leigh-Anne Galloway was able to hack into one security system using a known software flaw, and swap out the real feed for a fake feed.

The bottom line is that you should always change the password that comes with your camera; never connect to any network before doing so. Stay on top of software and firmware updates for your device as well as the software you use to record, whether it’s a computer or an NVR.

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