Securing a Small Business with Smart Cameras

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As more businesses move their internal networks to the cloud, are smart cameras changing the way they think about security?

Businesses are beginning to turn to products that are primarily targeted to consumers to meet their IT needs, but do they meet the security needs of a commercial business? How is the video data they collect kept safe from would-be intruders?

Recent findings from research conducted by Claudio Bozzato of Cisco Talos uncovered multiple vulnerabilities in one of the world’s most popular network-­connected cameras, the Foscam C1

“These vulnerabilities could be leveraged by an attacker to achieve remote code execution on affected devices, as well as upload rogue firmware images to the devices,” Talos summarized. 

Vulnerabilities such as these can enable attackers to hijack the camera, viewing its video stream and compromising the integrity of the recording. 

In the case of the Foscam C1, the manufacturer worked with Talos to produce a firmware update that resolved the issues. Unfortunately, this means the users now have to apply that update to the camera.

Securing A Small Business With Smart Cameras

Home vs. Business – Smart Cameras

Smart cameras are a quick and easy way to add quality video surveillance to an area. For the most part, you take the camera out of its packaging, mount it where you would like it to be, and configure it using a smartphone app.

These devices are primarily targeted to consumers for home security, but a growing number of small businesses are taking advantage of products such as the Nest Cam to meet their surveillance needs.

Small businesses typically have limited IT resources and a small workforce. Being able to deploy a high-definition surveillance system that sends updates directly to the management team’s phones is a convenient and practical solution. This makes off-the-shelf home smart cameras like those found from Ring and Nest an appealing option.

Medium and large businesses are a different story. Consumer-grade smart cameras are made to be monitored one-at-a-time from a browser or mobile app. Businesses with dedicated security and IT staff have the resources to implement more robust monitoring solutions. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are more commonplace here where the business can better secure and monitor the data.

Cloud-based data storage and collection is an option here, but at a scale that goes beyond these off-the-shelf smart cameras. IT departments are best served with a comprehensive plan of action for the demands of fully-equipped solutions, including data collection, storage, and security.

These are largely more customized solutions. A far cry from off-the-shelf smart cameras found in your local electronics store.

Advantages

Smart cameras have some advantages over small traditional CCTV systems. Here are a few:

  • Easy to Install: Smart cameras need very little technical know-how to set-up and operate.
  • Tamper Resistant: Since the video is stored directly in the cloud, physical on-site DVR tampering isn’t an issue.
  • Remotely Accessible: Users can check their smart cameras remotely using a mobile app.
  • Two-way Communication: Being able to hear and talk to people over the device is a plus.
  • Inexpensive: Smart cameras run anywhere from $40 to $300 a piece, with discounts for bundles.
  • Convenient: Moving a smart camera is as simple as picking it up and carrying it into the next room.
  • Concealable: One common trend among smart cameras is a small physical footprint. Unlike the traditional CCTV domes, smart cameras are usually more compact and less noticeable.

Smart technologies are booming. Companies are looking for ways to connect virtually every appliance in the home to the internet. 

Analysts predict that the global smart camera market will grow nearly 24% by 2020, making it a $9.8 billion industry. 

Disadvantages

Going for an off-the-shelf consumer-grade security solution for corporate use is risky. You’re putting your company’s security in the hands of a one-size-fits-all cloud solution built for home users with 1-3 cameras.

A comprehensive cloud-based strategy configured for your business’ needs is a different story. If your IT department is equipped to deal with the demands of a robust surveillance system, you can avoid some of the typical setbacks associated with typical smart camera solutions.

These disadvantages include:

  • Additional Points of Failure: Smart cameras connect to a network the business does not control. If that system becomes compromised, so can your data. They can also pose the risk of hijacking and weakening of the local network.
  • Unscalable: Where one, two, or three cameras is fine, scaling beyond that is difficult. Most smart cameras are made for home use and not for businesses that need considerably more coverage.
  • Wi-Fi Dependent: Wi-Fi signals can drop or be interrupted for various reasons. The microwave in the breakroom, a router in need of a reboot, or even a spike in bandwidth usage can interrupt your camera’s stream. There are some alternatives that allow for a wired connection via ethernet.
  • Easy to Remove: Easy installation means easy uninstallation. Many of these cameras are mounted using magnets, and others have simple screws. This presents a physical weakness that savvy intruders can take advantage of.

Services like Nest and Ring offer inexpensive cloud storage options that are proprietary for their home camera systems. This data is a tempting target for malicious parties. 

In Conclusion

Smart cameras are a remarkable technology, combining the power of cloud-based data storage and rapid deployment with the simplicity of a modern app-accessible media device.

Where smart cameras fall short is in the ability to scale. Any business that needs more than a few of these devices will undoubtedly find the experience limiting and without the versatility of more traditional surveillance systems.

Quick and easy works well for consumers and small businesses, but it fails to meet the demands of medium or large enterprises with substantial physical space and high-value assets to secure.

For these companies, DoubleHorn provides custom cloud solutions to securely store your data and that fit your budget. Preparing a foundation of the proper cloud solution for your business is the first step in creating large-scale IoT video surveillance systems.

If your business needs advice on how to properly scale, secure, and store your data, DoubleHorn is ready and able to assist. Contact us for more information.

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