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White Papers on Cloud Video Surveillance 

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Cyber Security and Cloud Video Surveillance

The PDF version includes additional content; download for more on this subject.


This paper explains why video surveillance system security can and should be more fully addressed within the industry so that cyber security is not left as a problem for installers or customers to solve. Eagle Eye Networks is a leader in this respect, mitigating security concerns from the point of product research, development and deployment.

Today’s networked video surveillance systems are vulnerable in many ways, and their cameras have been weaponized by hackers to create massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on targeted systems.

Securing today’s networked video systems can be a complex and difficult technical challenge. However, especially for small and medium size businesses, it doesn’t have to be that way. Video systems and equipment can be purpose-built to constitute a pre- hardened and more easily securable system, in contrast to the current installed base of networked video technology.

In September of 2016, a large French web-hosting provider reported a record-breaking 1-terabit-per- second DDoS attack against their web servers, unleashed by a collection of more than 145 thousand hacked Internet-connected video cameras and digital video recorders.

In October of 2016, DDoS attacks were launched from tens of millions of IP addresses against Dyn, an Internet infrastructure company headquartered in New Hampshire. The attacks bogged down or took offline dozens of major websites including AirBnB, Amazon, Etsy, GitHub, Netflix, Pinterest, Reddit, PlayStation Network, SoundCloud, Spotify, and Twitter.

Researchers have reported that over 90% of the attacking devices were compromised network security cameras and DVRs and that most of the compromised devices are in the U.S. In August 2016, researchers reported that about one million web-connected video cameras and DVRs were infected with malware. Most of the camera and DVR owners are unaware that their devices are infected.

In January 2017, in a ransomware cyber attack, cyber criminals infected 70 percent of the 187 video storage devices that record data from federal surveillance cameras in Washington D.C., taking video recording offline for about four days, just prior to the presidential inauguration.

These and other similar incidents are proof that securing video systems should be of paramount concern to security video equipment manufacturers, to installing security integrators, and to their end-user customers. However, hacker defense is just one part of ensuring that security video systems live up to their purpose – to faithfully monitor and record the activity within their cameras’ fields of view.

General-Purpose vs. Purpose-Built Equipment

Traditionally, networked video management systems were built from general-purpose computers, network switches, routers and firewalls that require a significant amount of highly technical configuration to operate as a cyber-secure system. Leading manufacturers provide system or device hardening guides about how to set up appropriate cyber security controls. Even then, security hardening remains an ongoing project that requires continuing attention and updating, as products are improved and as new cyber threats emerge.

Configuring a secure VMS from general-purpose equipment is a lot to ask of video system installers and customers, especially because it’s not necessary. Manufacturers of purpose-built video surveillance products can and should provide security pre-configured systems because they designed and built the equipment and wrote the software that needs to be hardened. Furthermore, a cloud-based video surveillance system, provided as a service, can and should include the continuing attention and updating that effective cyber security protection requires.


The remainder of this paper explains how Eagle Eye Networks addresses cyber security protection and simplifies video system deployments using purpose-built design.


Please download the PDF to read more.

Video System Cyber Security

Computer and network security focus on protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA) of the networked systems and the data they contain. These three factors are paramount for video systems, given the potential for any camera’s recorded video to become critical legal evidence. Additionally, today’s video systems have become operationally important to many types of businesses, both for the instant oversight capability they provide and for the business insights enabled by a wide variety of video analytics. Anywhere, anytime availability of video via mobile devices is a basic business expectation these days.

However, for most video systems, Internet connectivity puts confidentiality, integrity, and availability at risk because most systems don’t have built-in protection against cyber attacks. Thus, many video systems are defenseless against cyber attacks, even though the continuing escalation of such attacks makes it more important than ever for video systems to be cyber secure.


Camera Cyber Lockdown Feature

The PDF version includes additional content; download for more on this subject.


Eagle Eye Camera Cyber Lockdown is a set of cyber security features that have been released as part of the Eagle Eye Cloud Security Camera Video Management System (VMS). The purpose of Eagle Eye Camera Cyber Lockdown is to significantly reduce or eliminate the impact of camera cyber security issues.

Protecting network video surveillance cameras is important because many cameras have multiple cyber security issues:

  1. Cameras are manufactured by many companies located all over the world. Many of these companies have unknown political and governmental affiliations.

  2. Many cameras are manufactured by one company, then labeled and sold by different companies. It can be difficult to determine the manufacturer and country of origin.

  3. Many camera suppliers and manufacturers are lax on cyber security—they do not perform adequate testing of their cameras and do not have the knowledge required to make their cameras truly cyber secure. It is hard to determine camera cyber security profiles when selecting cameras.

  4. Manufacturers may have accidentally or on-purpose included secret “backdoor” access to cameras.

  5. Many camera manufacturers do not address discoveries of camera cyber security flaws in a timely manner, by providing firmware upgrades addressing the security problems. Some do not provide firmware upgrades at all.

  6. Often the published factory default passwords are not changed when cameras are installed, or easily- guessed passwords are used, leaving cameras wide open to individual hacker intrusions and automated network-based attacks.

  7. Passwords are often transmitted in plain text and thus are discoverable.

  8. Upgrading firmware on a large quantity of surveillance cameras is generally labor-intensive and costly.

  9. Many surveillance camera customers (end users) do not have processes in place to monitor the discovery of camera cyber vulnerabilities and to perform camera firmware upgrades when they are released. Their cameras remain vulnerable.

The Problem

Part 1: Internet Connections

A “bot”, short for robot, is a software program that performs automated tasks. A botnet is a network of computers, each of which is running one or more bots. Hackers have coopted the term “botnet” to refer to a network of internet-connected devices, including PCs, servers, mobile devices and internet-of-things devices, that are infected and controlled by a common type of malware, with the device owners usually unaware of the malware infection. Internet-connected security video cameras and recorders have become a favored target for hacker botnet infections.

In September and October of 2016, the two largest global botnets attacks to date were launched using several hundred thousand infected cameras, digital video recorders (DVRs) and network video recorders (NVRs). Researchers have reported that in 2016 about one million web-connected video cameras and DVRs were infected by malware, with most of the camera and DVR owners unaware that their devices are infected.

The root of the problem is the desire of individuals and businesses to remotely view security video using a desktop or laptop computer, tablet, or smartphone. Traditional DVRs and NVRs require a connection FROM the Internet to the recorders (see the red lines in the image below). If the recorder does not have an Internet connection, video can only be viewed at the recorder’s location, and few customers are willing to accept a restriction to local viewing only.

Cameras, DVRs, and NVRs have little to no protection from cyber attacks, very few have built-in firewalls. Most have not undergone adequate cyber security testing by their manufacturers or installers. Most have major password vulnerabilities. Few receive adequate firmware upgrades to fix security vulnerabilities or have their operating system (OS) vulnerabilities patched as updates are released.

In July 2017, cyber security researchers discovered a serious flaw, which they named “Devil’s Ivy”, that exists in nearly all cameras supporting the popular ONVIF specification. The flaw allows hackers to take full control of ONVIF-compliant cameras. Most camera makes and models are vulnerable, including top brand high-quality cameras. Within days a few major manufacturers issued firmware updates that correct the flaw. It is up to camera owners and servicing contractors to update the cameras. There is no telling which manufacturers will make firmware corrections for their cameras, or how many of the millions of vulnerable installed cameras will actually be updated.

When vulnerable cameras and recorders can be contacted directly from the Internet, they can be easily attacked and exploited by cyber criminals and other attackers. Strong cyber security controls and constant vigilance are needed to avoid recorders being compromised. Any device connected to the Internet is typically attacked or probed hundreds of times per day, especially DVRs and NVRs, as they are a high-value target.

Part 2: Trojans, Spyware, and Pre-Installed Viruses

There is a significant concern that cameras, DVRs, and NVRs may be provided by the manufacturer or the installer with spyware, Trojans, or viruses already installed. There are many documented cases of this having occurred.

When that occurs, the device is running software that will either immediately, or at some predetermined future point in time, attempt to contact a “command and control server” (CCS) on the Internet to retrieve additional software code and instructions. For example, a compromised camera could have a Trojan that will attempt to contact its CCS on January 15, 2019. On that date, the camera will use the Internet connection to obtain instructions from the server.

Most networks allow outbound connections from any device on the network. More sophisticated network configurations utilizing VLANS or firewalls will attempt to block outbound connections, but this is not the norm. In a typical network, encrypted outbound connections to a CCS would be allowed. Files from computers on a local network, video images, and passwords could easily be transferred out to hackers by an infected camera. The camera could then receive instructions and additional software to execute, to hack into other computers on the network, attack databases, transfer out credit card information, or take part in a denial of service (DDoS) attack.

In the case of the Trojan or pre-installed virus on a camera, NVR, or DVR, the infected device simply needs ANY access to the Internet to become part of a botnet and pose a serious threat to the systems the controlling hacker has targeted.

Why Hackers Attack

The days of kids hacking websites just for fun are long gone. Hacking is now a big business that steals information to sell it and uses encryption to hold websites hostage for ransom. These websites can be of any type, including public-facing websites, gaming systems, e‑Commerce sites, and in some cases even government systems.

Key hacker objectives include:

  1. Obtain confidential personal information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers and other personal identification information (PII).

  2. Obtain confidential company-related information such as customer information, financial statements, etc.

  3. Bring down a website or network via a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) by utilizing a botnet of tens or hundreds of thousands of compromised devices (often distributed globally).

DDoS attacks have become the most prevalent type of attack, growing rapidly in the past year in both number and volume. Network cameras, DVRs and NVRs are an ideal target. Their vulnerabilities make for a highly insecure system that is simple to exploit.

Are you interested in the solution? The remainder of this paper explains Eagle Eye’s Camera Cyber Lockdown. 


Please download the PDF to read more.

Identifying a True Cloud Security System

A Technical Guide to Cloud Computing’s Essential Characteristics


Not all physical security industry cloud offerings are true cloud systems. A true cloud system is specifically engineered for cloud computing. It provides valuable capabilities that premises-based systems can’t. They are constrained by cost factors and the fixed computing and storage capacities of on-premises servers. Yet some companies install traditional client-server software on a cloud-hosted server and call it a “cloud-based system”. This wrongly implies that the software is designed to utilize cloud computing capabilities. Cloud systems engineering is very different from traditional client-server software engineering.

A true cloud system’s architecture makes maximum use of modern cloud computing technology, through a “pay only for what you use” subscription model. A true cloud system affordably and securely provides scalable capabilities that can’t possibly be achieved in client-server on-premises systems.

Some end-users, security design consultants, and systems integrators remain cautious about cloud-based security applications. The physical security industry does not have a history of timely and flawless adoption of information technology and IT practices. This led to suspicions (in some cases discoveries) that not all solutions promoted as “cloud-based” are true cloud offerings.

However, true cloud security applications do exist. Given the business world’s accelerating adoption of cloud computing, more organizations are open to deploying cloud-based security applications than many security practitioners and security technology specifiers generally realize. This makes it especially important to be able to identify well-engineered physical security cloud applications.

True Cloud Engineering

Cloud computing is an evolving set of technologies, whose key characteristics have been defined by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2011, and the ISO/IEC 17788 international standard for cloud computing in 2014. The nature of a true cloud application is well-documented in the cloud development community, as are the most workable software development practices for the creation of cloud applications. This paper explains the essential cloud computing characteristics and how they apply to a cloud-based video management system (Cloud VMS). Understanding cloud computing characteristics is a pre-requisite for identifying a true cloud system of any type.

Do you want to know how to identify a true cloud security system? The remainder of this paper provides the questions you should be asking and other details you need to know. 


Download the PDF to read more.


11 Reasons Cloud Video Surveillance is Moving to the Cloud


This report provides a detailed comparison of VSaaS vs. Internet-connected traditional security camera systems.

VSaaS, or Video Surveillance as a Service, refers to hosted cloud-based video surveillance. The service typically includes video recording, storage, remote viewing, management alerts, cyber security and more. 93 percent of businesses have now adopted cloud solutions. Cloud technology advances and greater bandwidth availability are making VSaaS – also called cloud video surveillance – is increasingly attractive.

This white paper will clarify the fundamentals of a true cloud system, using guidelines set by the US Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.

It provides an 11 point comparison of key differences between “VSaaS” cloud-based video management system (VMS), and an internet-connected traditional DVR, NVR, or VMS. This checklist can help you assess which system type will best fit your company’s and/or your customers’ needs.

The PDF version includes additional content; download for more on this subject.

12 Security Camera System Best Practices


Security camera systems are increasingly internet connected, driven in great part by customer demand for remote video access. The systems range from cloud-managed surveillance systems, traditional DVR/VMS/NVRs connected to the internet, and traditional systems connected to a local network which in turn is connected to the internet.

With cyber-attacks accelerating, physical security integrators and internal support staff must keep up-to-date on cyber security attack vectors which can impact the camera video management systems they sell and/or support. These systems require the same level of protection from cyber security vulnerabilities given to traditional IT systems.

This paper focuses on the best practices for internet-connected security camera systems. Many of these practices may be also applied to other physical security systems.

The PDF version includes additional content; download for more on this subject.


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