Securing Your Video Surveillance Network
Network security is paramount for all organizations in this increasingly dangerous world. From servers and hardware to databases and software, there is a wide range of vulnerabilities that represent entry points for malicious actors.
As with all connected devices, IP video security cameras do present some risk. But they can be protected through strategies including secure transmission, firmware updates, and security patches. Combined with meeting the highest compliance standards, shutting off port forwarding, and conducting rigorous penetration testing, you can employ a level of security that ensures your video feeds and devices are safeguarded against all the most common attacks and exploits.
Jump to each section to learn more:
Network Security Best Practices
• Firmware Updates & Security Patches
• Secure Transmission & Data Encryption
• Secure Transmission & Data Encryption
• Avoid Port Forwarding Dangers
• Compliance – PCI, GDR, HIPAA, and More
• Penetration Testing
Network Security FAQs
• How do I practice network security?
• How do you protect your security camera network from hackers?
• What are the most effective methods to improve surveillance camera network security?
• What is an air-gapped network security camera system?
• What are the risks associated with port forwarding security cameras?
• What ports do security cameras use?
Surveillance Network Security Best Practices:
Firmware Updates & Security Patches
Most modern devices — from cameras to laptops to servers — contain firmware. While this helps the device operate optimally and allows for updates to expand capabilities, it also represents a point of vulnerability. Hackers find ways to attack firmware with malware and exploits that could compromise your system and allow them to access your network.
Manufacturers and providers must make proactive firmware security essential. Timely updates are crucial, and modern devices should automatically notify you whenever an update or patch is required. Firmware signing — including concepts such as key signing and signature checking — is also critical because it ensures that nobody except for authorized users can run code on any network security camera. This way, you can help prevent any unauthorized personnel from getting inside your network.
Secure Transmission & Data Encryption
Data transmission is one of the primary vulnerability points within any network, and all security professionals must be on the lookout for flaws in their approach. First and foremost, data in transit must be secured with protocols such as HTTPS and SSL that use certificates to prevent unauthorized access. Other strategies include data encryption, with full end-to-end encryption representing the ultimate safeguard to protect data and video footage even in the event that it is intercepted. Regardless of the exact type of authorization and encryption protocols used, a modern network camera system should be expected to employ strong measures that can ensure secure data transmission.
Avoid Port Forwarding Dangers
Traditional security camera systems, popularly known as CCTV, could be very secure. In an analog world, when the systems were closed off to the outside world (in an air gapped local network), there was very little concern about someone hijacking a feed or intruding into a system. But risks multiplied when technology advanced and remote management of video feeds became common.
To enable remote monitoring and system control, most users incorporated port forwarding and VPNs into their NVR- or DVR-based systems. This opened them up to network intrusion, exploits, and data theft. And this generally remains the reality for any system that relies on NVRs and port forwarding for remote access. At the same time, many modern IP security cameras today have evolved to sidestep this glaring vulnerability. With no open ports — and no inbound connections at all — they allow you to enjoy remote access without the need for a VPN configuration and the risks that this can create.
Compliance – PCI, GDR, HIPAA, and More
Beyond the need to protect the integrity of your network for all the obvious reasons, there are also compliance factors to consider. The specific issues can vary depending upon your industry and location, but the global and national trends are continuing to move toward more protection for privacy and data security. A few examples of the most well-known regulations include the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Any breach of network security that runs afoul of these or other regulations can result in massive fines, penalties, and reputational fallout. This makes compliance another vital reason that you need to ensure that your security camera system is as secure as possible. If someone can exploit your surveillance system and gain access to the network, you could soon have a very big problem in more ways than one.
Perfect network security management is nearly impossible. Over time, more devices will be connected, more users will gain access, and more updates will be made. This means that new vulnerabilities will be introduced. So rather than thinking you can ever maintain a bulletproof network, the best strategy is to rigorously and continually search out and fix exploits. This is best done through penetration testing, a proven method of detecting vulnerabilities by employing the same tactics used by malicious attackers. While some large enterprises have in-house experts to conduct penetration tests, there is a wide range of qualified third parties whose entire business is based upon staying up to date on the latest exploits and correcting vulnerabilities.
Network Security FAQs
How do I practice network security?
Network security is vital for all organizations today, and they all must work to stay ahead of the hackers and malicious actors looking to exploit their devices, systems, and networks. There is no foolproof method, but the best strategies focus on limiting vulnerabilities. When it comes to video surveillance, this means hardening both your devices and the wider system to ensure that the bad guys cannot gain unauthorized access to your network.
How do you protect your security camera network from hackers?
Protecting your security camera network requires constant vigilance and an ongoing effort to minimize vulnerabilities. This starts with secure devices that can be updated and patched as necessary and a system configuration that doesn’t allow easy entry to unauthorized users. That initial setup will always be the main factor in keeping your network secure for the long term.
What are the most effective methods to improve surveillance camera network security?
Security updates and patches will always be very important. Even the strongest hardware, software, and networks contain some vulnerabilities and these must be closed off as soon as they are discovered. Hackers attack where the holes are and you need to shut them down before they realize there is an opportunity to exploit. Structurally, you can also evolve to a surveillance camera system that doesn’t rely on port forwarding, only transmits outbound data, and is equipped with end-to-end encryption.
What is an air-gapped network security camera system?
An air-gapped network security camera is any device (whether professional IP security camera or home IP camera) that is unconnected to the wider network. This configuration makes it very secure. Unfortunately, this once-common setup from the days of NVRs and DVRs is rarely practical in the modern world. Remote access is not possible if the system is air-gapped, and this limitation severely reduces the utility of any surveillance strategy. And once you introduce port forwarding into this type of system, it quickly becomes much less secure than many modern cloud security camera systems on the market today.
What are the risks associated with port forwarding security cameras?
Port forwarding introduces vulnerabilities. It presents a way in for hackers and can leave both your security camera system, the data it transmits, and the wider network open to attack.
What ports do security cameras use?
While different systems can be configured differently, the most secure method of data transmission is maintaining secure HTTPS traffic in an outbound-only direction. This ensures no unauthorized access can slip through the cracks, and using Port 443 helps maintain this protection.