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Cybersecurity for Security Cameras

What is Security Camera Cybersecurity?

Security cameras are becoming increasingly prevalent in our daily lives, and they pose unique security risks. Whether you are using the devices in enterprise or privately, their presence does pose security concerns that you need to be aware of. There are three types of security cameras:

Traditional analog CCTV systems. This is an old industry standard that operates over combo RG59/Siamese cable. This is a cost-effective system, is pre-wired in some buildings, and has limited resolution.

HD-CVI systems. This is the new industry standard for security systems that operates over coaxial combo cable requiring a BNC connection. It is the easiest for integrating microphones and has excellent zoom capabilities.

Network IP systems. These systems operate over CAT5/6 ethernet cable, are easy to install, have the highest possible quality video, and excellent zoom capabilities.

Some potential vulnerabilities include:

Default passwords. If users do not change the default passwords on their connected devices, such as web cameras and routers, cyberattackers can more easily gain access to networks and systems. In some internet of things (IoT) devices, devices are manufactured with default usernames and passwords that users are not even privy to1.

Internet connections. Many enterprise IP cameras are deployed in local area networks, making them unsearchable on the internet. IP cameras bought in the consumer market, presumably for home use, often connect directly to the internet. Devices that are connected in a local area network or directly to the internet are both vulnerable, as any device brought into a local area network can bring an infection to the network that may compromise security cameras, among other things.

The following are some of the types of cybersecurity threats to security camera systems2:

  • Code injection
  • Manipulation and/or observation of traffic
  • Exfiltration
  • Scanning and reconnaissance
  • Misconfiguration exploits
  • Brute-force attacks
  • Social engineering
  • Physical access for cyberattacks involving wiretapping, flashing camera firmware, wire cutting, etc.
  • Supply chain control
  • Reverse engineering
  • Adversarial machine learning
  • Privilege escalation
  • Video footage access
  • Arbitrary code execution
  • Malware installation
  • Lateral movement
  • Man-in-the-middle
  • Denial-of-service
  • Isolated network access
  • Covert exfiltration channel
  • Unauthorized video monitoring
  • Accessing air-gapped system
  • Disabling video feeds

Best practices for security camera cybersecurity include:

Intrusion detection and prevention systems. Anti-virus software should be installed on user terminals and DVRs. Firewalls and network intrusion systems should be used.

Careful configuration and encryption. Review cameras, routers, terminals, and DVR for weak passwords and other security protocols. Secure communications whenever possible.

Physical access restriction. Wiring should not pass through public areas and networking equipment should be protected under lock-and-key.

DoS attack defense systems. Deploy defense mechanisms and attack detection systems.

MitM attacks defense systems. Proper encryption can be used to prevent eavesdropping and packet manipulation.

Adversarial machine learning defense. LSTM deep neural networks can be used to predict the next frame in surveillance footage. Irregularities can trigger an alert.

Education. Educate users of a system about potential attack vectors and warn users to beware of unsolicited messages and requests in order to protect against advanced persistent threats.

1 Buntz, 2019, “5 Cybersecurity Lessons Related to IP Security Cameras”

2 Kalbo, et al., 2020, “The Security of IP-Based Video Surveillance Systems”