Articles by Bob Ehlers
Strong passwords are the most basic security measure, but unfortunately ignored by many users Keeping surveillance networks secure can be a daunting task but there are several methods that can greatly reduce risk, especially when used in conjunction with each other. Below are 13 tips security and IT professionals can follow in order to keep an IP video surveillance network secure. 1. The Stronger The Password The Better Strong passwords are the most basic security measure, but unfortunately ignored by many users. Many surveillance systems are deployed in the field with default passwords on equipment, including cameras, switches, recorders, and more. Doing so makes it easier for tech teams to access cameras; it also makes it easier for unauthorized parties to log into a camera or security network. At the very least, all surveillance network devices should have unique passwords documented in a secure location. This prevents access to the network using simple password guessing and requires a more skilled attacker with more complex methods. Passwords should be unique per device. Having a single password for all invites a nightmare if that one password is lost. 2. Use A Password Manager If you set up complex passwords which are unique for each device, using a password manager such as LastPass, Dashlane, or LogMeOnce to store all of your passwords is a good idea. This way you can protect the repository of passwords with a strong password and two factor authentication, while maintaining complex passwords which are unique to each device. These password managers offer very strong security, although not perfect. Having timely, complete backups will assure that any outage as a result of hacking is minimal 3. Identify Remote Access Risks Remote network access can be a great tool for network administrators and system integrators. Being able to monitor your network remotely saves you from truck rolls and costly on-site visits and allows you to go prepared when needed with the right tools and equipment. Remote network access can be accomplished a number of ways. VPN access is generally the best option, as it can be running 24/7 and does not require any user intervention. Often remote access can be granted on demand using remote desktop tools to a workstation on the network. Systems like VNC, GoToMyPC, and TeamViewer are great alternatives for on demand access, but they do require user intervention to launch. It is generally not a good idea to leave these tools running all the time. If you must expose a device on your private network to public Internet, you will need to use port forwarding. If you have the option use an obscure port instead of the standard ports (22, 23, 25, 80, 554, etc). Remember that each open port presents a possible opportunity for an attacker. Since each VMS may be different, users should refer to manufacturer documentation for which ports must be open if remote access is required, as for maintenance or remote viewing. A deep packet inspection firewall can watch these open ports for intrusion. 4. Implement Firewalls For Remote Access "Never load files or applications from unknown sources, question anyone who asks for personal information or passwords, and think twice before clicking a link" To prevent unauthorized remote access, many surveillance systems are purposefully not connected to the internet at all; instead they are connected to a separate LAN. This reduces risk but may make service more difficult as updates to software and firmware, otherwise downloaded, must be loaded over USB or other means. The connected systems are typically behind a firewall, which limits inbound/outbound traffic to specific IP addresses and ports that have been authorized. Properly implemented, this strategy may prevent the vast majority of attacks. 5. Improve Security With VLANs And QoS Virtual LANs (VLANs) improve security by segmenting traffic into multiple virtual networks. IP based surveillance equipment or general office LAN traffic may exist on the same physical switch but the VLAN ensures the networks are invisible to each other and unreachable. Note that when using VLANs, bandwidth constraints may exist. Because of this, VLANs are often deployed in conjunction with Quality of Service (QoS), which prioritises network traffic so video quality is not impacted. 6. Disable Unused Switch Ports Another easy but typically overlooked method of keeping unauthorized devices from accessing a switch is to disable all unused ports. This step mitigates the risk of someone trying to access a security subnet by simply plugging a patch cable into a switch or unused network jack. Note that this step does not necessarily prevent unauthorized access to a network, as someone could potentially unplug a device (camera, workstation, printer) from a previously authorized port or jack and access its port, unless measures such as MAC filtering or 802.1X are in place. Unneeded services may act as a backdoor for hackers or viruses, consume additional processor and memory, and increase startup time 7. Disable Unused Network Ports Many cameras ship with unneeded network ports turned on, such as Telnet, SSH, FTP, etc. These ports are favorite targets of hackers. A quick 30-second scan of an IP camera can reveal multiple open ports other than those expected for web access and video streaming. These ports should be disabled wherever possible to prevent potential attacks. 8. Disable Unused Services Unnecessary services on viewing workstations and servers should be turned off. These may include manufacturer-specific update utilities, various Microsoft update services, web services, etc. These unneeded services may act as a backdoor for hackers or viruses, consume additional processor and memory, and increase startup time. These services should be disabled or set to operate only when manually started. 9. OS And Firmware Updates OS and firmware updates are a matter of some debate, with some users installing every available update while others wary that these updates may break VMS software or camera integrations. However, these updates often include patches to newly discovered security vulnerabilities, such as the Heartbleed SSL vulnerability, which affected millions of computers worldwide. Patches for these significant issues should be installed. Other, more routine, updates may be optional. Users especially concerned about compatibility issues should contact their camera/recorder/VMS manufacturers to see their recommendations for applying updates. 10. Segregate Control From Data Networks "Control physical access to the most vulnerable areas of a network - rooms, closets, or racks where surveillance servers and switches are mounted" If your network design allows it, breaking out your control plane from your data plane is a good idea. This is especially true if you are running keyboard and mouse control for remote systems. You can keep your local control network off the public Internet, making it difficult for hackers to gain access to your network and taking over systems, while allowing for more flexibility in video routing. This generally will require end devices to have two network interfaces or the use of dongle devices. 11. Control Physical Access, Keep Doors Locked Control physical access to the most vulnerable areas of a network - rooms, closets, or racks where surveillance servers and switches are mounted. If doors cannot be secured, at least restrict access to individual rack cages and switch enclosures. Many facilities employ electronic access control to server or network equipment rooms. However, even without electronic access control, mechanical keys and locks can do a good job of protecting sensitive areas. 12. Maintain Regular Backups No matter how good your security practices are, it is almost inevitable that you will get hacked. Having timely, complete backups will assure that any outage is minimal. Malware such as Ransomware is on the rise. Ransomware encrypts the files on your system and then asks for payment before a key is sent to unlock the data. If you have regular backups, you can tell the Ransomware hackers where to go. Without backups you may have to pay up. 13. Document And Enforce A Security Policy All the steps above will improve security on their own, but they are most effective when documented as part of a written and strictly enforced security policy. This policy generally comes from one of two places: End user: When the surveillance network is part of a larger corporate/enterprise LAN, end users most likely control the security policy for all network devices and may force these requirements upon integrators. Integrator: If an end user does not have a security policy in place, the installing integrator may choose to create one as part of his documentation. The integrator would then require it to be followed in order for this warranty to be enforced and to limit liability in case of a breach. By following a good security policy you can avoid the high costs of network hacking. The most effective tool is employee awareness and their following of good network “hygiene”: Never load files or applications from unknown sources, question anyone who asks for personal information or passwords, and think twice before clicking a link.
Spectra NVR3™ is a purpose built, high performance video management software At ISC West, the largest security industry trade show in the United States, Spectra Logic recently unveiled a new global division: Spectra Video Surveillance, and simultaneously announced Spectra NVR3™, a first to market, enterprise class, fully integrated video management software (VMS) with intelligent analytics and multi-tiered storage. High-Performance Video Management Software: “Many industries utilize video surveillance for a variety of reasons, and today these projects include vast amounts of higher resolution cameras, more video footage and legal requirements that mandate its archival for years,” said Spectra Logic’s Chief Sales Officer, Brian Grainger. “This market moves at unprecedented speed and operates within stringent guidelines. Our new unit, Spectra Video Surveillance and newest product, Spectra NVR3™, are natural next steps to help our clients stay ahead.” Supporting the new global division, Spectra NVR3™, is a purpose built, high performance video management software combined with long-term retention. It is the first fully integrated video management solution to include a feature rich VMS, analytics software and tiered storage – eliminating any unnecessary complexities associated with using multiple vendor solutions. With an intuitive user friendly interface, Spectra NVR3™, allows customers to live view, manage, analyze, record, retain and retrieve surveillance video. Spectra NVR3™ is optimized for mission critical functions and provides the highest levels of data assurance combined with easy to use surveillance video management. NVR3 Overview: Integrated enterprise class video management solution includes a high performance server, digital tape library, and a full feature VMS. Scales to accommodate unlimited cameras, increasing bandwidth requirements, and long term video retention mandates. Tiered storage allows for 100% of video accessibility 100% of the time. “This market moves at unprecedented speed and operates within stringent guidelines. Our new unit, Spectra Video Surveillance and newest product, Spectra NVR3™, are natural next steps to help our clients stay ahead.” With increasing resolution, the migration of analog to digital video format, and longer retention terms, rising cost of standalone video management systems, network video recorders, and disk-only storage have made video management and retention prohibitively expensive,” added Grainger. “Our NVR3TM solution fits seamlessly into existing infrastructures, allowing customers to affordably retain petabytes of video content, indefinitely.” Partner Quotes: Vaidhi Nathan, President and CEO, IntelliVision “IntelliVision is excited to announce our integration and certification with Spectra Logic’s NVR3 product line,” said IntelliVision’s President and CEO Vaidhi Nathan. “Fully integrated, our extensive analytics, Spectra’s NVR3’s enterprise VMS and infinite retention capabilities offers a wide variety of customers, the industry’s leading, best in class solution.” Bob Ehlers, Chairman, HauteSpot Networks The technology partnership between HauteSpot and Spectra Logic offers the surveillance market a unique end to end solution,” said Chairman of HauteSpot Networks Bob Ehlers. “Video created by HauteSpot cameras can be managed and retained seamlessly with Spectra’s NVR3 through our integration – providing organizations a complete solution for both mobile and fixed cameras.” Jason Schimpf, Director of Sales Operations and Partner Relations, Arecont Vision® Arecont Vision® values partnerships with reliable storage vendors like Spectra Logic for the benefits they bring to our customers,” said Jason Schimpf, Director of Sales Operations and Partner Relations, Arecont Vision®. “We are looking forward to working with them in providing excellent solutions to the market.” “Our NVR3TM solution fits seamlessly into existing infrastructures, allowing customers to affordably retain petabytes of video content, indefinitely.” 3rd Party Validation: John Convy, Industry Expert: “With today’s achievements in technology, video surveillance and analysis has become extremely hyper-scalable and have massive storage requirements,” said video surveillance industry expert John Convy. “Until now, storage options for the industry have been too complicated and expensive. Spectra Logic’s NVR3 TM is an industry changing, comprehensive VMS and tiered storage solution that is scalable and affordable for current and future video surveillance needs.” Eric Slack, Senior Analyst, Storage Switzerland: “Spectra Logic has developed technologies to ensure long-term data integrity for tape-based data recording,” said Storage Switzerland’s Senior Analyst Eric Slack. “Together with tape’s compelling economics the NVR3 gives IT the ability to store as much video as the company desires, essentially forever, and do it at a reasonable cost.”