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NSA Warns: Update Windows Or Else

For the first time I’ve ever seen, the National Security Agency has made a public announcement about a private company’s product, warning that all Windows users that are still using older versions of Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, Windows Server 2003/2008, or Windows 7 should upgrade or face serious remote exploit risks. Their advisory can be found here: https://www.nsa.gov/News-Features/News-Stories/Article-View/Article/1865726/nsa-cybersecurity-advisory-patch-remote-desktop-services-on-legacy-versions-of/

Honestly though, if you’re still using Windows XP or Windows 2000 and it’s connected to the internet, you kinda deserve everything you get. I get it, there are still some ancient programs out there that never got upgraded and you just “can’t live without it”. And I can even understand if you’re still using Windows 7 (by the way, patch that too), but really, it’s been 18 years since Windows XP was released… stop clinging and move on.

Further information from the Microsoft CVE-2019-0708 security advisory:

  • Block TCP Port 3389 at your firewalls, especially any perimeter firewalls exposed to the internet. This port is used by the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and will block attempts to establish a connection.
  • Enable Network Level Authentication. With NLA enabled, attackers would first have to authenticate to RDS in order to successfully exploit the vulnerability. NLA is available on the Windows® 7, Windows Server® 2008 and Windows Server® 2008 R2 operating systems.
  • Disable remote Desktop Services if they are not required. Disabling unused and unneeded services helps reduce exposure to security vulnerabilities overall and is a best practice even without the BlueKeep threat.
  • Note that Windows® 10 systems are already protected from this vulnerability, as it only affects the older versions of Windows® listed above.

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2019 Q3 and Q4 Class Schedule

The following North Carolina SP-FA/LV Exam Prep classes are set for the remainder of the 2019 calendar:

  • August 14, 2019 8:00A – 5:00P Greensboro ADI, 4500 Green Point Dr #103, Greensboro, NC 27410
  • October 16, 2019 8:00A – 5:00P Raleigh ADI, 2741 Noblin Rd # 101, Raleigh, NC 27604
  • December 11, 2019 8:00A – 5:00P Greensboro ADI, 4500 Green Point Dr #103, Greensboro, NC 27410

For additional information or registrations, contact National Training Center at (702) 648-8899 or sales@nationaltrainingcenter.net. Or register on-line at http://www.nationaltrainingcenter.net/index.xml.
Full NTC class schedule link: http://www.nationaltrainingcenter.net/instructor-led-training.xml

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Simple Home Security Tips

For the most part and except for the rare high net worth executive or celebrity, our firm does not actively engage in home security consulting for residential properties.   We typically just aren’t cost effective, and there are plenty of other very good sources of information out there that can provide good service for your needs.   Still, I find that I get asked this advice from time to time, and even though we don’t typically provide this service, here are some ideas that can be helpful in protecting your loved ones and your home:

  • Have a Security Mindset.   A simple rule I learned from my father as a kid, “Leave your place the way you want to find it when you return”.   This applies to home security very easily.
  • Use Lighting. Leave the lights on if you’re coming home after dark (or have automatic lights that turn on a schedule or at dusk). 
  • Smart Lights. For techies, get light switches or sockets that can be controlled by Google Home or Amazon Alexa. Then set schedules or use voice commands to turn lights on/off. This helps make the home appear to be occupied.
  • Outdoor Lights.   Keep a light on the porch or in the yard.  Lights are a great deterrent for criminal behavior. Motion detection lights are useful too, although they tend to false quite a bit and may come on more than necessary.
  • Be Neat. Leave the house neat and orderly (it’s hard to tell if someone has ransacked your house if it’s already a mess…). There’s also a little bit of the “broken window mindset” here, that people won’t respect your home as a sovereign domain if it’s unkempt and in disrepair. Plus, don’t leave items in your yard that may help burglars or vandals break into or damage your home (ladders, tools, bricks/lumber, gas cans, etc).
  • Lock Doors.  Lock the doors before you leave.  If keys are a hassle, install a PIN pad for your deadbolt on your main or side entrance door.  They are easily installed and inexpensive.  Oh, and make sure you have a deadbolt lock on all doors.  Install one if not.
  • Use door barricades if needed. Metal exterior doors are best. For use when you are at home, using simple devices that function as a night latch are very helpful in supplementing deadbolts (you did get a deadbolt, right?). Be sure to install the night latch at least one foot higher or lower than the deadbolt, to add more strength and resist kick ins. By the way, forget the chains and use at least 3″ screws to fasten to the door frame and studs behind. Here’s a suggestion https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D2K367Y/
  • Use Your Alarm.  Arm the alarm system if you have one.  Many people have alarm systems, but never actually use them.  Use it!  (A great feature I’ve added to my house is a “go away light”, that is a little red light that turns on if the alarm has been tripped and can be seen as I’m driving up to the house.  If it’s on, nobody goes inside, we call the police.)
  • Get an Alarm.  If you don’t have an alarm system, get one.  Most any commercially available alarm system is sufficient for home use.  Large companies like ADT and CPI market themselves as inexpensive, but tend to have high monitoring fees.  Otherwise they’re all about the same.   PRO TIP:  If you get an alarm system, get smoke detectors connected to it and pay for the monitoring fee.   The fire department will automatically be called whether you’re home or away.
  • Get a dog.   This age old burglar deterrent really does work pretty well.  And no, it doesn’t really matter what kind of dog, although a Chihuahua might not be the most intimidating.
  • Lock Windows.  Use your window locks, even on the second floor (criminals have ladders too).  If your windows are the older double-hung wooden type, an easy trick to secure them is to drill a ¼” hole in the far left or right side side of both sashes, and then insert a 10 gauge nail through both sashes.  Even if they managed to unlock from the outside, the window can’t be raised or lowered.
  • Cut Back Shrubs.  Keep shrubs cut back and trees limbed up so you can see your house windows and doors from the street.  Shrubs near the house should be trimmed neatly and cut back.   Hedges should be trimmed so they don’t offer an advantage to a stalker or potential burglar.
  • Fences.  If your property would benefit from the use of a fence, they provide a natural barrier and boundary to your property.  Most houses don’t have them, but for some homes they might be a good fit.
  • Cell Charger by Your Bed.  Most people don’t have a home telephone anymore, so make sure to have your cell phone charger at your bed at night.  If you need the phone in a hurry because of a break in, you don’t want it in another room.
  • Night Lights.  Most grown adults don’t want or need night lights, but they are very helpful for night time navigation in events where you’ll likely have the advantage of night vision and know the layout of your home.
  • Flashlight.  Having an alternate source of light is critical in emergency situations.  There should be one flashlight per person in the household.  The nightstand is an obvious place to keep it.
  • Have a plan.   Have a plan what to do in case of an emergency, a fire, or home invasion.  If you have children, discuss the plan with them too.  Keep it simple so everyone will remember it.
  • Owning a Gun.  Owning a weapon like a gun is a personal choice, and for some may not be right, or even legal.  If you do have a lethal weapon, make sure it is stored and locked up securely, and that you can get to it quickly and safely if needed.  Otherwise, you’re better off not having it or not using it in the case of a home invasion (you don’t want it used against you or your family).  Training and regular practice with the weapon is also strongly recommended.
  • Non-Lethal Weapons.  If a firearm is not for you, other non-lethal options such as Pepper Spray, Blunt Weapons, or Tasers may be used in the case of home invasion, but still also carry the responsibility of choosing to use them appropriately and have proper training.  Don’t use pellet guns, air-soft guns, or the like as a means of self-defense. In the event the intruder also has a gun, he’s more likely to use it if he believes you also have a gun.
  • Handcuffs.  A final consideration is what you’re going to do with the intruder if you’ve managed to stop them.  How will you hold them for police?  Having a set or two of handcuffs in a drawer is a safer and easier alternative to tying them or trying to lock them in a room.

These are but a few ideas for home safety and security that can be easily adopted by most people.  If you need more detailed information or want a thorough security plan developed, contact a professional security consultant to help you determine your needs and the best plan to make sure you are prepared and protected.

Posted in: CPTED, Fire and Life Safety, Security Technology

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The use of shielded category Ethernet cable for IP Video

It comes up from time to time from customers and vendors when and where to use shielded category twisted pair cable for Ethernet.   Most vendors hate it.  It’s hard to terminate, doesn’t flex well and nobody ever seems to agree on how it should be grounded.    For the most part, it wasn’t much of a problem for CAT3 or even CAT5 cable.  But with higher and higher bandwidth (and thus frequency) demands on the cable, using CAT6A cable in certain environments for network applications becomes important.   And while there’s a decent argument for why you may not need CAT6A cable for IP video (see this article for more information), many of our clients are using it as a corporate standard, regardless of the application.

Although CAT6 cables have improved the cable twist to handle gigabit Ethernet and reject noise, this by itself is not enough for environments that have high electromagnetic interference (EMI).  What is EMI?  Think of EMI as gremlins that are trying to attack the signal of your network cable.  EMI is generated as electromagnetic waves in the radio frequency (RF) spectrum, and can come from many sources.  The most logical is an RF transmitter, like a radio station tower or even HAM radio antenna; but other sources can be harder to spot, such as a nearby computer, high voltage power lines, a leaky transformer, or fluorescent light fixture that’s going bad.   Running network cables in your ceiling or plenum space could potentially put these cables near those kinds of sources, and thus introducing the gremlins to degrade or even interrupt communications over the Ethernet network cable.   Since Ethernet is a collision based network strategy, this usually looks like a slow connection, as the network repeatedly keeps re-transmitting packets that were found to be in error.  Result, poor network performance and potentially bad video.

Most people are familiar with UTP cable (Unshielded Twisted Pair), versus STP (Shielded Twisted Pair), and UTP is commonly used in CAT5e cabling that is predominant for gigabit Ethernet networking in most commercial and residential applications.  STP cables have an additional metallic braid that forms a sort of shield (google “Faraday shield” for how it works) around the conductors, and reduces the amount of interference that can be injected into the cable.   Still, both types of conductors (STP and UTP) have one thing in common, the twisted pair, that by itself reduces interference by its inherent design.

Photo courtesy of Axis Communications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The drawback of STP cables is that they increase the total cost of the installation. STP cables are more expensive due to the shielding (and usually are higher quality), which is an additional material that goes into every foot of the cable.  The shielding also makes the cable heavier and stiffer. Thus, it is more difficult to handle during installation (pulling cable over long distances through a conduit is hard enough with flexible cable).

While most installations can be done effectively using UTP cable, we recommend using STP cable for high EMI environments like manufacturing, laboratory, or research facilities where other high energy or RF generating devices may be in use.  Also, if you’re forced to run category cable in a cable tray that’s shared with power conductors (low or medium voltage), use STP cable even though the cable tray is separated and may have it’s own shielding for the power conductors.   It is also highly recommended to use an STP cable where the camera is installed outdoors or where the network cable is routed outdoors.

Oh, and what to do with that drain wire?  Our suggestion is to use some of the pre-fabricated shielded keystone jacks like this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in: IP Video

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Bitcoin Hacked! Hackers steal $70M dollars! And Other Sensational Journalism…

Bitcoin…  Another story.   The mainstream media, in their usual quest for drama and ratings, is in a fever pitch about the December 5 hack of Nicehash.com that resulted in the theft over over 4736 bitcoins (~$77M dollars as of this writing).  See here for what is claimed to be the blockchain identifier for the transfer:  https://blockchain.info/address/1EnJHhq8Jq8vDuZA5ahVh6H4t6jh1mB4rq

The claim that seems the most ridiculous is that “Bitcoin is NOT safe, and is hackable!”.   This is nonsense, and it is like saying that the US dollar isn’t safe because your neighborhood Bank of America was robbed.  The fact is, nicehash.com didn’t have adequate security measures in place to prevent the hack (even with the most annoying Captcha I’ve ever used), and it probably has ruined the company.

Nicehash is was a very popular and easy to use mining service where people (including myself) can mine for Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) using their PC or specialized hardware built for mining. Nicehash pays miners a “fee” for mining cryptocurrencies, and pays them on a round basis.  The nice thing was they paid in bitcoin, no matter what coin you were actually mining.  Naturally, they had to have a pretty large amount bitcoin to be able to make these payments, and they advertised it regularly on the web.

Nicehash also had a policy of not making payments to external wallets (meaning, under the control of the individual miner, and not on nicehash.com) unless they had a mining balance of .01 bitcoin or more. That’s about $170.00 and many miners had just slightly less than that balance that was stolen from the community wallet that nicehash.com paid miners from. And because Bitcoin transfers are generally not traceable to an individual, the money is gone. In short, everybody loses.

The trouble sets in when someone, somehow, found a way to get into their Bitcoin wallet and transfer the coins out to themselves.  The FBI is almost certainly involved, as well Interpol, Europol, and possibly some other European or Slovenian police agencies.

So why still invest in Bitcoin? Because Bitcoin is based on a blockchain technology that is very reliable and secure.  The concept of bitcoin and it’s blockchain is not hackable in itself. Rather, nicehash.com was hacked and lost their bitcoin.  There are different types of blockchain strategies, and some are more efficient, quick, secure, and anonymous than others.  Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to use this concept, and while you can “see” what address funds are transferred to and from, you cannot see “where” physically (geographically) or any other identifying information for who or where the funds were sent to or from.

So what is blockchain? Google is your friend here, as there are tons of videos and wikis about blockchain and how the different types all work.   But in a (very simplistic) nutshell, blockchain is the concept that all transactions in an ecosystem are using a distributed cryptographic ledger, and most importantly, the SAME ledger. This means that if Zack, Sally, Mike and Kim are all in a trading club and are sending money to each other, they each have a copy of the ledger, and when Mike sends Zack funds, it is recorded on all four ledgers and the ledgers all have to agree (using a cryptographic algorithm) on the transaction date/time, amount, and transferees bitcoin address. If they don’t agree, the transaction is invalid and the transaction is rejected, thereby preventing someone from just inserting a million dollar credit to their own ledger.  As you can also imagine, for something like Bitcoin that’s been logging and recording all these transactions around since 2009, that ledger can be quite large… about 2 gigabytes large… and still growing.

The cool thing is this technology can be applied to other types of transactions, such as deed transfers, contracts, information exchanges, or gaming, to name a few. Because the transaction is secure, encrypted, and shared, it is virtually “hackproof”.  What isn’t “hackproof” is anything stored online, like Nicehash’s wallet,  or any other online wallet that you yourself don’t have the private keys for and can transfer to cold storage.   Online wallets are very convenient.  Coindesk.com is very popular and has exploded in recent weeks due to the popularity and price spike for Bitcoin, but it’s generally not considered a good idea to keep large sums of Bitcoin stored there unless you have an immediate need for it.  Keep it in an offline wallet and use cold storage.

So in short, Bitcoin is just like any other fiat cash currency, the bearer holds the value, and if you don’t take steps to protect it, someone else can (and probably will) steal it.

 

 

 

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Door Handedness

One of the questions that comes up all the time in access control design layouts is door handedness.  It’s not a hard concept to understand once you see it graphically, but it’s sometimes tough to remember in the field if you’re not accustomed to working with door hardware on a daily basis.

While we would typically prefer security doors to swing into the secured space (easier to barricade if needed in an emergency and the hinges are typically on the secured side), usually the handedness of a door isn’t left up to security and is based more upon building code and/or the function of the space.

The following graphic explains it better than I’ve seen it anywhere, and shows you the door swing based upon being on the Outside (or “unsecured” side where the card reader or key would be).

 

Courtesy of Specialtydoors.com

Also, note from the table below that a Left Hand door isn’t the same as a Right Hand Reverse door, as the lock hardware has to change in order to be able to latch properly.

  • Left Hand:  Door swings inward to the Left, uses LH Hinge, LH Strike, LH Lock.
  • Right Hand: Door swings inward to the Right, uses RH Hinge, RH Strike, and RH Lock.
  • Left Hand Reverse:  Door swings outward to left, uses RH Hinge, RH Strike, and LH Lock.
  • Right Hand Reverse: Door swings outward to Right, uses LH Hinge, LH Strike, and RH Lock.

 

So next time someone says that a door is a “Right Hand Reverse” door, you’ll know that they really mean the door swings out to the right towards you if you’re standing on the outside.

 

 

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Alarm Circuit Supervision – Why You Should Care

EOL resistors installed at panel instead of terminating device.

The wrong place for EOL resistors.

Nearly every project we work on, we recommend that alarm initiating devices, especially door contacts, are to be configured using end of line (EOL) resistors for 4-state supervisory circuits.  The actual resistance value and configuration can vary by system manufacturer, but typically it involves wiring a 1K Ohm resistor in series and another in parallel with the switch, at the terminating device itself (not in the panel or junction box above the door).   This ensures that we have circuit supervision from the alarm panel (or card reader panel) all the way down to the device termination, so we know if the device is in a normal state (1), an alarm state (2), shorted state (3), or cut state (4).   This is known as 4-state supervision, because it distinguishes between 4 possible scenarios for the supervised device.

This simple addition offers greater security to the system, yet often gets omitted by vendors in the installation because it requires extra time and expense, and even causes confusion with some installers (really).  Worse, we sometimes end up with installations like the picture above that adds the EOL resistors to the panel with Dolphin connectors.  This type of installation does not offer any real security, and potentially introduces the opportunity for spurious connections inside the panel.  Thankfully, vendors like GRI manufacture magnetic contacts that come pre-assembled with the resistor array included.  They include 1K, 2K, 3.3K, 5.6K, 10K, and 33K resistors in a variety of contact packages, and also sell resistor packs for retrofit installations.

Years ago, one of the best explanations I ever read about alarm circuit supervision was from an Andover Controls card access panel installation guide.  I had learned already about 4-state supervision and why you should do it, but the following illustration shows it more clearly than anywhere else I ever saw it.  I ran across it again the other day and decided I would put it in an article here on the site.  The illustration below shows how the first two iterations of EOL resistors do not offer any significant line supervision, and could easily be defeated.  The third configuration offers 4 unique resistance values that correspond with the 4 possible state conditions.

Credit to Schneider Electric / Andover Controls for the illustration.

 

Posted in: Security Technology, Training

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Video Surveillance System Best Practices – The Right Way to Use CCTV

One of the most common questions we are asked by clients when starting a new project is if they should use Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras for video surveillance.

As we work the the programmatic stage of the project, we try to apply some industry best practices with the client on HOW the cameras will be used on the property.  Here’s a quick rundown on some of the concepts we try to apply:

  1. Identify the purpose of the system and the objective of the surveillance.  This should be a detailed statement that originates in the project’s Basis of Design document.  The objectives should be detailed and achievable.  For example, “providing a view of the entire parking lot” is not a good performance objective, while “identifying the license plates of each vehicle entering or leaving the lot, along with a digital time-date identifier” is an effective performance objective.
  2. Minimize the number of cameras in the system. While this obviously has an impact on the initial cost of installation, it also enables the owner to utilize the system more effectively with fewer personnel and technical resources.  It helps to reduce the overall operating and maintenance costs as well.  A side benefit is that it encourages the system designer to “task” the cameras.
  3. “Task” each camera. Cameras must be placed so that each camera has a dedicated field of view.  The field of view should be directly related to one of the performance objectives.  Once a field of view has been defined, a camera and lens that meet the general performance requirements for the task can be specified. As with Item #1 above, the purpose of each camera should be identified in the design documents.
  4. Avoid new or unproven technologies. Select equipment and a system topology that uses proven technologies.  The shift in video cameras from analog cameras that use coaxial cable for NTSC composite video signals to IP cameras that use Cat 5e or Cat 6 data cable is an example of a technology that was slow to be adopted, but has proven itself to be a reliable improvement.  On the other hand, owners who have adopted unusual technologies, such as 360º digital PTZ cameras that require special software to render a viewable image, sometimes find that they are locked into a platform that may not be supported long term.  A helpful analogy is to consider cameras to be similar to telephones.  A good design allows the cameras to be replaced or upgraded as required while continuing to use the same cabling and infrastructure.
  5. Invest more heavily in the cabling and infrastructure than you might otherwise. The infrastructure that serves the cameras includes cabling, power cabling, power supplies, fiber-optic conductors, adapters, and hardware.  The main components of the infrastructure should last at least 20 years or more.  Cameras, however, will last significantly less than that period.  Therefore, be sure to invest wisely in the basics, as they will outlast three camera generations or more.
  6. Maintain the system properly after installation. Ongoing maintenance after the initial installation is a critical component of an effective surveillance system.   One of the key issues in a wrongful death lawsuit brought against Sumitomo, Inc., for a murder that occurred at their Research Triangle Park, NC, site in the early 1990s was whether or not certain video cameras were operational at the time of the incident.  While it is doubtful that a malfunctioning camera would have been a significant contributing factor, it was nonetheless an issue that was uncovered during the discovery phase.  The camera had been out of order for at least six months and the defendant produced work orders for the repair.  Unfortunately, some of the work orders had been delayed by a facilities manager who kept putting the repairs off until a later budget period.  An owner cannot be expected to guarantee that all parts of a system will be operational at all times, but it is expected that repairs will be made in a timely manner and that the owner exercises due care.
  7. Develop a written Appropriate Use and Retention policy for archived video. A surprising number of owners do not have any written policy regarding the appropriate use and retention of recorded video. A proper policy should be developed in conjunction with corporate counsel and should conform to the records retention policy of the organization. The policy should specify for what purposes the video images may be used and what type of authorization is necessary to access or copy them.  It should identify them as to the appropriate level of confidentiality.  It should specify what constitutes inappropriate use and what disciplinary action may be taken if personnel violate the policy.  And, as with all such policies, it should be disseminated to the personnel who have access to the video to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities.
  8. Archived video should not be retained beyond the specified retention period without proper authorization. Archived video is a company record and may be subject to discovery or subpoena.  Once the retention period, which is usually 30 days for most applications, has expired, the video should be deleted.  Corporate counsel can provide guidance on what would constitute a duty to retain specific video in connection with an incident or ongoing investigation, but video should never be retained beyond the limit specified.  We are aware of at least two instances in the past in which an owner has been asked to go through ALL videocassettes in their possession because an employee stated to an attorney that they “sometimes” kept some of the video for other purposes.  This is an expensive and time-consuming process and usually doesn’t produce anything of value.
  9. Leverage technology where it makes sense.  Using software technologies that are easily applied or even come included with the IP camera or Video Management System (VMS) can increase the overall effectiveness of your surveillance system and your security operation.   While one-off, proprietary hardware technologies might be so unique they are not supported later, software technologies are usually less painful to resolve if they don’t work as desired.  Software technologies like Axis Technologies’ “ZipStream” video compression or video analytics features such as face detection or autotracking are a more recent inclusions to camera and VMS software that can improve the effectiveness of video surveillance by making your operation more efficient and capturing and storing meaningful video clips instead of empty scenes that offer no value.
  10. Be sure you can record audio.  Many IP cameras come with audio microphones and recording capability built in.  Before you deploy these types of cameras with audio enabled, check with Corporate counsel to make sure that you are not violating any state or local statues prohibiting the recording of audio on your premises.  Some shy away completely from audio recording because of a broad interpretation of 18 U.S. Code § 2511, otherwise known as the Wiretap Act, which states that it is illegal to intentionally or purposefully intercept, disclose, or use the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication through the use of a “device”.  While video is not specifically mentioned in the statute, and a camera is not specifically mentioned as a “device”, it certainly fits a broad interpretation.  When in doubt, don’t record audio; but if permitted, audio recording can significantly enhance the evidentiary benefits of video surveillance.

There are many factors to consider when laying out a video surveillance system, but applying the above principles when considering the scope and size of your CCTV system will help avoid some of the of the more common problems and pitfalls that can arise from poor planning.

 

 

 

Posted in: Premises Liability, Security Technology

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Products That Don’t Exist, But Should

While working with a client for a high end residence, he brought up the video door bell gadgets that are all over the internet and in every Lowes or Home Depot. The objective was to have a decorative camera that would recognize video motion and record video and sound for visitors at the doorstep.

There are quite a few of these products available on the market, and for the general consumer they are probably a good fit.   But for our client base, a high end residence will typically have an integrated security and access control system, including video cameras.   Products like Ring and SkyBell must be used with a contract service that stores the video in the cloud, and are typically accessed and viewed via a smartphone app and are proprietary in nature.   This means they don’t support standards like RTSP or ONVIF which would allow off the shelf network video recorders (NVR) to record the video on-site or remotely as part of a comprehensive monitoring service.

To make things worse, these cameras typically operate over WiFi, and do not have any kind of battery backup.   Unreliable wireless communications and unreliable power don’t make for good security.   But at the same time we don’t want to add some industrial looking door bell to the client’s residence.   So what residential products like this are available currently that we can connect to our own NVR?  Nothing.   Really…. nada, zip, zilch.   There are currently no low profile, decorative products commercially available that will support a hardwired video connection and operate as a standard doorbell camera.

Another option was a product with a security camera integrated into the porch light.  Kuna makes some great looking products that would fit most any residential style and decor.  Kuna Maximus Light w/Camera But again, these products lock you into a monthly cloud service contract with proprietary protocols that are not available to 3rd party NVRs.  The Kuna Maximus product almost fits the bill too, providing good looks with security lighting, 720P video and two-way voice communications, but it still requires WiFi and is proprietary.

Someone Please Build This:

Here’s a product idea for high end residential and ornate commercial environments that want additional security.   Take a product like the Kuna Maximus where you have a decorative security light with a built in camera, but instead make it with the following features:

  • Motion Triggered Lighting (two-level lighting for soft accent lighting and full power security lighting when motion is detected).
  • 2 Megapixel IP Camera with Night Vision, H.264 video codec.
  • Two way audio communications with built-in microphone and speaker.
  • Support for HTTP, ONVIF, RTSP, FTP, SMTP, DHCP, DDNS, and SNMP protocols.
  • 10/100 Ethernet via built in powerline adapter, plus 802.11ac Dual Band 2.4G/5G Wireless support

So here’s the thinking behind this.  Almost every residence has a porch light at the front door.  This device would replace the existing wall mounted porch light, using the exact same 2-wire 12o VAC power that already exists.  It operates as any other motion security light, either “off until motion sensed”, or “1/2 brightness until motion sensed and then full brightness”.  It takes any standard Edison bulb.   The good part comes in where we add the camera that can use WiFi (if you must) or the built-in powerline Ethernet interface, allowing you to connect it to your own home network using a powerline module plugged into the wall near your router and then via CAT5 to your router.   From there it can behave as any other network camera on your NVR, or it can operate standalone with video motion detection and send emails when triggered, or upload via FTP to a web server, or whatever.  The powerline Ethernet adapters allow us to avoid WiFi where we can, and use the existing power wiring, eliminating the need for additional CAT5 cabling to the light.  If video is centrally monitored, the remote operator could communicate via IP audio to the person in front of the camera using a video management server.

This product should already exist, and quite frankly I can’t believe it doesn’t.  It would probably cost less than $300 retail, and I’d not only be using them on every executive residence that I was responsible for, I’d have one on my own home too.   And if you really want to have some contract service to store video in the cloud, fine… just don’t make it the only option.

 

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Kile Unterzuber Receives NCESA President’s Award

We are proud to announce Kile Unterzuber has received the 2017 President’s Award by the North Carolina Electronic Security Association.

“The recipient of the 2017 President’s Award has been an outstanding leader to the NCESA for many years.  His exceptional ability to lead the industry in educational advancement has been respected and admired for many years.  His leadership passion has provided direction and pathways for the organizations through top level education.    The never-ending work of this volunteer has earned him the reputation of an unselfish and highly accountable industry advocate.  With many years of industry experience, Kile has proven through his honorable and ethical character that community and industry service is essential. He has always dedicated himself to better the world around him and the industries he serves.” — Chris Lohr, President NCESA

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