Keeping Cloud-Based Video Surveillance Footage Secure

by guest blogger Beth K.

 

Video surveillance is one of the most valuable tools in any security system, but until recently, storage costs and other limitations made it less than practical for many applications. That’s changed with the migration toward cloud-based storage, which has rapidly become a popular solution for both home and small business video surveillance systems. Cloud storage eliminates the cost and hassle of the various local storage options, provides greater convenience, and allows for a more versatile feature set. However, it also raises valid concerns over security and access control.

The Camera Meets the Cloud

Until relatively recently, video surveillance was generally handled via local DVR, NVR or VMS systems. These systems, which store video on local hard drives with optional internet connectivity, have gradually been phased out in recent years in favor of the decentralized storage and built-in remote viewing capabilities of cloud-based video surveillance platforms. In fact, most home monitoring systems are now built on cloud storage to provide real-time, on-demand access through mobile apps. Additionally, while traditional surveillance platforms often come with limited camera support and scalability, cloud-based monitoring is essentially only limited by the amount of bandwidth available.

Cameras and Connectivity

One of the greatest benefits of cloud-based video surveillance is the sheer variety of options it provides. Users can connect to their cameras live via web portal or mobile app, view stored videos on the fly, quickly switch between various video and still picture modes and even move and manipulate cameras that support such features. Video from internet-connected surveillance cameras can be recorded and sent directly to the cloud, or they can be processed through a traditional DVR or NVR system and backed up to the cloud for an added layer of redundancy.

Is Cloud-Based Security Secure?

While cloud-based video surveillance offers a number of benefits, it also presents its own security concerns. Cloud-stored video is only as secure as the remote server on which it’s stored, which puts a tremendous importance on finding a proven, reputable service provider. The video also needs to make it to the server in the first place in order to be useful, which may not be guaranteed depending on the internet connection quality and the reliability of the cloud provider’s infrastructure. Additionally, local hardware vulnerabilities are still a concern as well. Wireless home networks can be hacked or spoofed with relative ease, and the popular demand for remote access opens up additional vulnerabilities as the video may be easily accessed through less secure web portals and mobile apps.

Best Practices

The good news is that many potential security flaws can be overcome with responsible management and a few common-sense steps. In fact, the single greatest vulnerability in internet-connected surveillance systems is often the passwords for IP cameras, web portals, and local networks. Several high-profile attacks have been launched in part by accessing DVRs and smart cameras that still used default passwords, and that’s where any security effort should begin. Every device should have its default password changed immediately, and all passwords should be changed on a set schedule. For maximum security, each password should be unique and contain a random mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Additionally, firmware should be kept up to date on each device in order to ensure that the latest security patches are installed.

What’s Next?

Cloud-based video surveillance has made real strides in a relatively short period of time, and the future looks even more promising. Encryption technologies continue to improve and hold the potential to greatly minimize cloud storage security concerns. Internet bandwidth is steadily increasing and becoming more affordable, allowing for ever-greater video resolutions, streaming and cloud storage of greater numbers of cameras. Multi-sensor cameras, too, are slowly becoming more affordable and available, opening up the possibility of improved night vision, thermal camera integration, and other innovative features.

In a world that is increasingly concerned with enhanced security and convenient remote access, cloud-based surveillance platforms appear ready to lead the way into the future. Both homes and businesses can benefit from the power of cloud storage, and many of the associated security concerns can be effectively mitigated by implementing common-sense precautions. There is no perfect system, but well-managed cloud-based surveillance from a reputable service provider offers strong and versatile security for the modern age.