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Monthly Archives: September 2016

Video Surveillance History

To better understand the current surveillance industry, you should know a little history. Without going into great detail, here are some important milestones of the video surveillance industry from the past decade.

Ten years ago, SD analog cameras and DVRs reigned supreme. While video management software and IP cameras were available, they had yet to become a mainstream solution.

Also around this time, some megapixel cameras were offered. They only supported MJPEG encoding (which made storage and transmission of these more expensive), but they boasted better quality than analog cameras.

And still in the early stages, but a topic of interest, were analytics, which had limited deployment during this time.

Around 2008-2012, IP cameras got a boost from the adoption of H.264 for megapixel cameras. Because IP camera usage was up, VMS software followed suit. The benefits of this upgrade were clear, making it easier for consumers to understand and accept the price increase.

As megapixel and IP cameras grew in popularity, interest in connecting cameras to the cloud was rising. While the dream was to eliminate any on-site recording and maintenance, bandwidth limitations and poor cloud VMS killed the dream.

In 2011, video analytics remained off the radar thanks to performance problems, unhappy customers, and ObjectVideo suing the industry. Even today, analytics are still slowly crawling out of the hole.

In the next few years, edge storage promised the elimination of NVRs and recorder appliances since the storage and software would be housed within the IP camera. Unfortunately, reliability issues deterred early adopters, and the introduction of inexpensive recorder appliances pushed edge storage to the back burner. Rather than becoming a main solution, edge storage was more commonly employed to provide redundancy for higher-end applications.

WDR & Low Light Conditions
Over time, surveillance camera technology has improved to better accommodate low light environments. Before, WDR (wide dynamic range) cameras, which automatically adjusted to harsh lighting conditions, were expensive and limited in availability. Low light performance was generally poor, and even worse in MP cameras (WDR in these were relatively non-existent). Today, the enhancements in quality are evident.

Smart CODECs
Smart CODECs dynamically adapt compression and I frame interval to scene conditions, which ultimately reduces bandwidth requirements and offsets the need to move to H.265. Within recent years, we have seen a rise in this technology. Moving forward, broad support of Smart CODECs will eventually drive down storage costs and remote network challenges.

HD Analog
For more than a decade, IP was the only practical way to deliver MP/HD, however the introduction of HD Analog has successfully killed off SD analog. HD analog uses coaxial cable for transmissions and has dominated sales for homes and small businesses. Some argue that it is just a temporary fix, while others say it will expand features and options to become a mainstay.

Cybersecurity has only recently become a major topic in video surveillance, however, many still brush it off. Though recent events have spurred concerns (ex. Sony hacking, Hikvision hacks, Axis’ major exploit), most users perceive a low risk of cybersecurity. As our systems become more connected, we can only hope that cybersecurity is better addressed and taken seriously among manufacturers and consumers alike.

Chinese Manufacturers
Chinese manufacturers have grown as contenders, with their earlier deployments showing poor quality and performance. However, over time, their products have improved and yet still maintain relatively low pricing. These manufacturers were originally OEM suppliers to Western brands, but recent years have shown their branded sales increase in the West.

Drive Down Costs
It seems manufacturers are in a current race to offer the lowest prices (whether to gain share or stay afloat) and consumers seem to be driving this shift. With numerous DIY and simple home solutions, we will see where the video surveillance industry is headed next.

What are your predictions for the future of video surveillance? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

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How To Turn Your Home Into A Smart Home

Modern technology allows us to easily upgrade our homes to smart homes. Smart homes afford us the ability to automate certain aspects of our homes in order to enhance our daily living. These changes and upgrades in technology enable you to customize your living space, control key systems remotely, and can even help you become more energy efficient.

While this added convenience is appealing to many, there are some things to consider before you begin your transition to a smart home.

First and foremost, you should set a budget for your upgrades. While smart technology was once thought of as a luxury only available to the wealthy, many devices are more affordable these days, making it easier for more people to make the switch.

Your budget will depend on many different factors, such as the size of your home and your personal goals for this endeavor. You will want to consider how many systems and appliances you want to automate and how integrated you would like your systems to be. For example, if your home is already wired for high-performance broadband connection, you can keep a tight budget. On the other hand, adding devices throughout your entire home will likely cost a significant amount more, necessitating a larger budget.

When choosing your devices, pay attention to the different levels of integration. Also, consider using products from brands that partner with other smart-home device makers to ensure compatibility and future expansions. Because these brands may offer special deals, you may even end up saving money.

Brainstorm By Room
Once you’ve considered all the practicalities of this smart home upgrade, you can start brainstorming about what you would like for each room. Keep in mind that the goal of a smart home is to make your life more convenient. Remember, what works for some people may not work for you. For the best result, your smart home should be tailored to you and your lifestyle.

With that being said, begin by evaluating each room individually. What does this room do? How could smart technology help this room? Take the kitchen, for example. If you loaded the dishwasher, but forgot to start it, you could do so remotely and come home to clean dishes ready for dinner.

Prioritize Installation
Once you have an idea of what you want, prioritization is next. The most important products to start with are likely those which you use every day.

One way to prioritize is to consider automating from the outside in. Start with how to get in and out of your home, which may include smart locks or smart garage door openers. Next, you may want to consider smart lighting, to avoid fumbling in the dark upon arrival, or a smart thermostat to conserve energy and create your ideal climate.

Making the initial switch is the biggest step. Once you get accustomed to the convenience and efficiency, you will likely find new ways to incorporate more smart devices into your daily routine.

Smart Devices For Every Room
Once you’ve tackled the big stuff, here are a few smaller, simpler options you may want to consider implementing in your new smart home.

  • Smart outlet adapters in the living room allow you to plug in different devices and control them remotely through an app on a smartphone or device.
  • Motorized drapes for the bedroom let you easily adjust the lighting and privacy without getting out of bed.
  • Ditch your half-asleep coffee brewing ritual in the morning by installing a smart coffee maker in your kitchen, which you can control through an app.
  • Remote garage door access allows you to open, close, and monitor your garage door from anywhere at any time.

Have you considered or are you currently using smart technology within your home? Which do you find is the most convenient? Share your thoughts and experiences with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Protect your smart home with quality security cameras and CCTV surveillance equipment from Browse our stock online or inquire about our products and installation services by calling 1-888-203-6294.

Video Surveillance In The Cloud

Businesses often turn to video surveillance to enhance security. In recent years, it has become a more feasible option for small businesses to employ cloud-based video surveillance due to lower costs and easy maintenance.

While some swear by the cloud, others are hesitant and worry about its security. If you are considering moving your video surveillance management to the cloud, you should get a better understanding of how it will work and how you can ensure that your data stays safe. Take these measures to ensure that your cloud-based video surveillance is as secure as it can get.

Is Your Hardware Secure?
Before you even think about cloud security, you must make sure that the equipment you have is free from security vulnerabilities. Do your homework and research different vendors’ reputation and history. Once you find a vendor you trust, make sure that your equipment is up-to-date with the proper software installed and in use. Maintain security by keeping your firmware current and using strong passwords. If your vendor has any other recommended best practices, be sure to follow them.

Vendor-Defined Cloud
Because the definition of “cloud” can vary from vendor to vendor, make sure you know exactly what your vendor is offering. When it comes to cloud service for video surveillance, you should be provided with camera management and data storage in the cloud. Your media infrastructure and value-added services should be managed in the cloud as well. Beware of vendors who advertise a cloud service, but really only offer remote access to a local device. This can be beneficial, but is limited in comparison to real cloud services.

Learn More About The Cloud & Data Center
If your cloud provider’s solutions are rooted on well-known cloud servers such as Amazon, Microsoft, or Google, you can rest assured that their general security is adequate. However, if they are using their own proprietary data center, you may want to proceed with caution. While there are secure clouds out there, you don’t know for sure how secure theirs is.

It is much easier to track a well-known cloud provider’s track record. For example, the Amazon AWS data center is supporting some of the largest internet services in the world. Their data storage environment is designed to limit the loss of data objects and is set for “encrypted at rest” which means it is stored encrypted in the cloud.

Camera To Cloud Connection
You should always understand how your system works. When it comes to your cloud-based video surveillance, you should know how your camera connects to the cloud. There are three different types of connections:

  1. No network configuration required
  2. Network configuration required
  3. The use of on-site device or gateway (not a cloud solution)

When it comes to your cloud solution, we will deal with the first two options only. If you prefer no network configuration required, your available options will be limited, but viable. Some vendors offer a solution to configure your cloud cameras with no network configuration, while others have built-in direct connections for your camera to the cloud.

Beyond that, any other cloud solution is likely a P2P solution, which tends to be less reliable than other options, so be sure to research your camera and cloud vendors.

The other option is to configure your own network to permit access to your own device from the internet. This is technically called “port forwarding” and, if done correctly, can be completely legitimate and safe way to configure your cameras. If you choose this route, here are some tips to boost security.

  1. As with everything else, choose a strong password.
  2. Ensure that all available firmware updates are applied.
  3. Ask your cloud provider for a list of IP addresses that will be used and white list them. This will create a very restricted list of servers that can connect to your device.

Implement these measures and work with your network or IT person and you have an adequate way to configure your cloud video surveillance system. You will avoid any black box P2P connections while opening up a huge list of cameras you can use for cloud surveillance.

Cloud To User Connection
Now that everything is in order, find out how the cloud makes your data available to you through its web or mobile apps. All your data and video is under their control, therefore the traffic from the cloud to your web browser or mobile app should be strongly authenticated with username and password and encrypted in transit using TLS, including standard web traffic and video streams.

While other limitations may occur (ex. bandwidth capacity), security concerns should not hold you back from cloud-based video surveillance. As evidenced, there are smart ways to keep your cloud video surveillance safe and secure. If done correctly, cloud-based video surveillance can offer a better solution than local storage solutions.

Does your business employ cloud-based surveillance? Share any tips or advice with us and your peers on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

For a wide range of network IP security cameras, CCTV surveillance packages, and more, please visit If you have any questions and would like to speak to a representative, please call 1-888-203-6294.

Online Security

Because of the convenience of the internet and our connected devices, more of us are turning to mobile apps and online solutions to conduct different types of business. However, with this added convenience comes greater risk. These security measures will help to keep your personal information safe.

First and foremost, to keep your passwords safe, keep them to yourself. Another way to protect your accounts is to choose a password that is not easy to guess. Ideally, passwords should be at least 16 characters and comprised of a combination of numbers, symbols, uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and spaces. You will also want to avoid any repetition, dictionary words, usernames, pronouns, IDs, and any other default number or letter sequences.

Bruce Scheier, a computer security expert, suggests taking a personally memorable sentence and modifying it into a password. For example, the sentence “When I was 11, my sister made me fight the neighborhood bully” can be transformed into “Wiw11msmmFtnbully” (it should go without saying not to use this as a password). Instead, use this as a guide to create your own, unique password.

Also, using the same password for multiple accounts is a bad idea. Try to come up with a different password for each account. Worried you’ll have so many passwords that you’ll get them mixed up? Consider using a password manager to keep track of your different accounts and login information.

Despite the abundance of social media and text messaging to keep people connected, email is still frequently used. And, unfortunately, it is still susceptible to hackers. Spam and malicious attachments can be rather damaging, yet we still click on things we shouldn’t. If something looks fishy, or is unfamiliar to you, do NOT click on it or open it. If it comes from someone you know, but you weren’t expecting it, confirm with the sender before taking action.

Online Shopping
The convenience of shopping from the comfort of your own couch or bed has its perks, but it also has its downfalls. When you use your credit card to shop online, there is a risk of your information being stolen. This shouldn’t deter you from shopping online, however, you should be cautious about when and where you use your credit card.

First, you should only use your credit card on websites with the prefix “https”. The “s” indicates that the site is using a secure protocol to encrypt communications between you and the website. If it is missing, you may want to proceed with caution. You will often see the “https” prefix when you are looking at sensitive information on online banking sites.

Also, avoid sending your credit card details on unsecured websites, via email or on any social media sites (even in private messages). Do not give more information than necessary, such as your date of birth or social security number. If you have never purchased from a vendor before, you should double check the physical address and contact information before completing your order. It is advised that you do not do your online shopping on public Wi-Fi or public computers, and it’s best to use a payment method with buyer protection. Lastly, always log out after ordering.

Account Protection
When you log in to a site with a username and password, this is known as single-factor authorization. While this method is secure on its own, two-factor authorization boosts security. With two-factor authorization, after entering a username and password, you are also asked to provide another security credential, such as a fingerprint or unique pattern. While a person can gain access to your basic login information, they would not be able to pass without the second unique security credential, safeguarding your account information.

Mobile Device
When it comes to your smartphone, it seems like a no brainer that you should set a screen lock code. That way, if your phone is lost or stolen, a stranger cannot instantly access all of your smartphone’s contents. For iPhones, you will want to set a 6 digit passcode – the added digits make it harder for someone to guess.

Aside from a screen lock code, you should disable any tracking options, whether it is tracking your location or the websites you visit for advertisement purposes, and prevent apps from uploading your information. You may want to block your phone number as well, since some companies may collect it and any information attached to it and use it for profit. Along the same lines, avoid answering spam calls as this may confirm that the number reaches an actual person and your number may be sold to other companies, thus increasing the number of spam calls and texts you may receive.

Use a recovery app in case of emergencies. Whether you simply misplaced your phone, forgot it in a public place, or someone stole it from you, recovery apps are designed for you to track the location of your phone and even lock or wipe your phone as necessary. If a Good Samaritan happens to stumble upon your lost phone, you may want to provide owner contact information, but keep it minimal. Stick to a first name and last initial, and a phone number of a friend or family member to contact if lost.

The best defense against losing or having your smartphone stolen is to keep it close to you. Store it in a tight, front pocket, or in a deep pocket of a big bag.

When there’s a will, there’s a way, and if a hacker is determined on getting his hands on your information, he just might. However, employing these security tactics helps you maintain control and makes it harder for hackers to reach that goal.

Have any other security tips you would like to share? Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

For great security cameras, surveillance packages, and more, visit Call 1-888-203-6294 to inquire about our free CCTV system quote and installation services.

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