So you’re going to buy some security cameras…

This was a post that I posted to Nextdoor on 15JAN2020, and then updated on 19FEB2020

So you’re going to buy some security cameras…

There’s a lot to consider. First, you have to determine what level of skill you have and how much effort you want to put into it. You must also look into how reputable the manufacturer is, and whether or not you’re going to monitor this yourself, or have a company monitor it for you. Are you going to host at home, in the cloud, or both? Constant recording, or just when there’s an event? And finally, cost.

About eight years ago when I lived on Highland Ave, my house was broken into. We decided that having conspicuous cameras on the outside of the house *๐˜ฎ๐˜ช๐˜จ๐˜ฉ๐˜ต* be a deterrent to 90% of criminals, and cameras inside the houses would help to identify culprits should anyone break in. I first accomplished this with – I kid you not – an IBM ThinkPad that was pulled out of the trash, a copy of Debian Linux, a USB hub, some USB webcams and repurposed Android phones that were headed for the trash, and LOTS of time writing bash scripts, cron jobs, free webcam software for Linux and Android, an email server for notifications, and a secure website for management. A pain in the butt, but very cheap.

My next system came with several weather proof cameras with built in night vision, an NVR/DVR that sat in my bedroom, and an accompanying app for remote access that could be achieved through a remote connection to my house OR the manufacturer’s cloud server. Both of the above systems recorded continuously. Only the first one had alerts.

My third system is a popular name brand. Each camera is 100% wireless with the option to wire in power, records only on events, and can detect and identify the difference between motion, people, cars, packages, animals, and smoke alarms, with options for sounding an alarm, e911, two-way audio, monitoring service, record only on event or continuously, cloud storage, etc etc.

My current set-up uses the last option as well as the second option. 90% of burglars are looking for the “low hanging fruit” such as houses without cameras or signage. The indoor cams will get a good look at anyone that enters. So it’s a deterrent, as well as a way to hopefully identify any burglars.

When considering where to place the cameras, I visited the Summit County GIS website and printed up photos of my yard and house. I got some graph paper and determine a scale and mapped it on the graph paper, and added in the foot print of the house. I then used a protractor to determine each camera’s field of vision. Then I cut out some stencils that I created with a ruler and compass based on that measurement. I was able to place these stencils on the graph paper to determine where the cameras would be able to see.

Finally, there are two big name camera companies in the news right now for all the wrong reasons. Wyze’s customer database was recently breached and Ring cameras have seen a rash of breaches These issues can be mitigated against with a couple of important steps. (1) ๐—ก๐—˜๐—ฉ๐—˜๐—ฅ re-use a password ever, anywhere and (2) ๐—”๐—Ÿ๐—ช๐—”๐—ฌ๐—ฆ use long passwords with Two-Factor Authentication or Multi-Factor Authentication.

I’m not saying those brands should be avoided for ever, but maybe wait until they have a chance to learn from their mistakes and make improvements. Whatever you decide, make sure that you consider single-points of failure, and build in redundancy.

I will gladly answer any questions that DO NOT have to do with any of the following: *Details on my specific set-up, such as brands (for my safety) *Whether or not some one should or should not have surveillance of their own property or things in plain view of the public (this is not the place for that conversation)

(How did I learn about CCTV technology, security, and safety? I’ve worked in security, armed protection, and private law enforcement on and off from 2006 to 2012. I have about five years experience as a senior network engineer, and six years in information security. Currently I’m my company’s Information Security Officer)

(P.S. Password complexity is less important than overall password entropy. So, instead of a complicated password like P@$$w0rd!, consider a pass๐˜ฑ๐˜ฉ๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ฆ such as CorrectHorseBatteryStaple)


๐˜•๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ I can ๐˜ง๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜บ add Ring to my list of recommended brands.

UPDATE: I have removed Ring once again. They share all of your footage and live feeds with law enforcement without court order or subpoena, AND any Ring engineer employees/contractors have full access to not only the footage and live feed, but also the devices.

  • Wyze
  • Arlo
  • ADT
  • Spectrum
  • Zosi

(In no particular order, and with varying levels of challenges and features)

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