Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Home And Business Security

Thoughts on wireless security camera systems?

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Jack Crabb:
Be careful where you point those things.

Webcam Nightmare: Mom Finds Young Daughters’ Bedroom On Live Streaming App

The news story is a bit misleading. Nobody "Hacked" her camera. That implies she was targeted specifically. What happened is she failed to educate herself on their installation, security and usage, left it open on a publically indexable server, and a web app which looks for those cameras found it and added it to it's index.

In essence, SHE published the footage, however unwittingly. Granted the sites which index these cameras are a bit shady, but they aren't used solely by perverts and hackers. It's the intent of many people to have their cameras publically accessible. Mine are, intentionally. They aid in monitoring everything from weather to traffic in my area, and face publically viewable locations.

Worse... She's still uneducated, even after this ordeal. She changed her Wifi Password... that has nothing to do with it, lol. Might as well have changed the combination on her luggage locks, lol. She "Thinks the hackers got in through a game her kids were playing"... No... she didn't restrict the feed in the settings. And some cameras that post to a hosted server are inherently insecure, there are no settings which would make the feed private. That's rare these days, but it looks to be an older camera.

This is a real problem. Even though the mom is 100% at fault (and continues to be at fault)... this is a foreseeable circumstance. Not all consumers will have any tech skills. She thought "I'll get a camera so I can check in on the kids" and didn't think past that one use scenario. A lot of people will do that. Manufacturers need to be aware of this mass technical ineptitude and make systems which are secure by default, have easy interfaces to navigate, plain English settings, and good documentation.

The real hero here is the woman in Oregon who alerted her to this issue, who incidentally was also on the "hacker" cam feeds, lol. Yet I don't think she was herself a "hacker" or a pervert. She was using legitimate tools and found someone who was clearly out of place and unaware of their own actions, then did the right thing and alerted this mother to it. Maybe instead of jumping in front of a news camera crying "victim" and "hacker", she should sit down with the damned user manual, lol.

Joseph Seal:
I install cctv for a living and have regretted every wireless install to date. Couple things to attribute this to

* Wireless devices are only as reliable at the wifi network they are connecting to, wifi equipment thats provided by your isp or sold at best buy are usually fine for normal web usage but video streaming is usually outside the scope of what it was designed for. So possibly with good wifi equipment I would have had better results but typically when a customer wants wireless cameras its because running wires is not in there budget so chances are neither is a good network
* Most of the the wireless cameras on the market seem like they are a little on the lower quality side, im guessing theres a reason that most of the higher end brands dont bother making a wireless cam
Also unless your going to setup a solar panel chances are your going to have to run a power wire to it anyway so if your going to run a wire you might as well use a poe camera or run an ethernet plus power if you cam is not poe. With that said if someone makes one that is setup so that it records on to a local sd card and than syncs the video to another storage source via wifi that would change things. That way if the wifi drops it can still record video.

Richard (richard):
I've had wired for several years and I would strongly discourage wireless for all the previous mentioned reasons. Before I would spend any money I would talk to your local police to find their opinion on them. Ours will not look at any footage whatsoever. If it is up to you to track down the image on your capture, it might be at your own risk. All of our cameras (4) failed within a year so I had to buy 2 new ones. Infrared images simply are not recognizable enough to be verifiable. Wide angle lens distorts and only an action motivated flood light will define images with clarity. Of all the claims I've read by manufacturers, I don't think any of them are anything more than B.S. Watch security camera footage from the news, on the internet and you will not find anything anywhere that is worthwhile to spend any money on. It is false security. I would not spend the money again. I have found other means much more effective that I will have to leave up to your imagination and creativity to duplicate.

Cameras only make you more secure if they act as a visual deterrent.

You are correct, 9/10 times police don't care about video footage. Unless there is someone in imminent danger, they'll just take a report. Stolen goods and vandalization don't really break the top 10 in terms of police priorities. If someone is raped or murdered in the house, yeah, they'll be interested in the footage. But that's an unlikely scenario.

The advantage of a camera is in your ability to monitor your home remotely and see what happens when you're not around. The uses are not limited to securing you from criminal activity.
• Is junior throwing a raging party while you're out of town?
• Which neighbor is bringing their dog to shit in your lawn?
• What critter is eating your garden?
• Has your package been delivered to your doorstep?
• You're coming home from work in an hour, is there 3' of snow in your driveway and you need to call the plow driver you contracted?

There are considerations before buying a camera. Will you actually use it? One camera per use. If you want to monitor your garden, it's not going to secure your home. If you want to watch the front door, it won't see the garden. One camera is of very little use.

As you add cameras, you increase the complexity of install, and the cost of storing video. If you have a 1080p feed, and 5 frames per second, even compressed, you're looking at about 5MB per minute. Multiply that by 5 cameras, and you've filled 100MB every 4 minutes. There are 1440 minutes in a day (roughly). That's 36GB of storage. At that point, you're looking at a 256GB SSD and a small PC to store it. About $400 just to store the video if you overwrite on a 5 day cycle. You're looking at $1,000 for the initial install, not $150 for a dropcam.

Cameras are useful, but if the objective is better security, there are other places I would sooner spend the money. Quality locks and a steel door guard (a metal plate that wraps around the handle to prevent kicking the door in). Security Film for your windows to prevent them from being broken. Auto-locking mechanisms for doors, and spring hinges to ensure they close completely behind you. A internet based remote for the garage door which you can set to close on a schedule, in case you forget to close it. Some nice looking, thorny bushes like roses or pyracantha to grow under the exterior windows.

And though I've said it in other threads before, an Irish Wolfhound / Pyrenees cross makes the worlds best security system. A dog that's larger than most gown men will scare off pretty much anything. On their hind legs, they'll stand 6' tall and though friendly and gentle (to people they know), the breed likes to "hug" people, throwing their paws over your shoulders and licking your face, at which point it becomes undeniably evident that they could fit your whole head in their mouth if they so choose. The Pyranees in them makes them very protective of their home and family.

I keep a couple of geese around the house. Nothing can move stealthfully past my property. If someone gets within 100 yards, they sound the alarm.

Depending on how remote a location it is, I know people who cut deep drainage ditches across their driveways. They drive over the gap on boards, but when vacationing, they can simply pack the boards up with them, and nobody is driving onto the property unless they happened to pack their own bridge, lol. The redneck drawbridge is probably the cheapest, simplest, and most effective means of protecting a remote property.

Dense perimeter hedges of osage orange will keep people out. Electric fencing for livestock will work on people too.

I'm not political, but here in NY, you can't drive anywhere without seeing signs "repeal the safe act" (the ban on assault weapons). Nobody breaks into those homes because the occupant is advertising that they are armed.

Motion activated flood lights work well, as do "vacation timers" for interior lights that will periodically turn a lamp on for a few minute, then off again, to give the illusion to people looking through the window that someone's home. If you're going out of town, get a $10 police scanner, and plug it in somewhere in the garage with the volume up.

There are a million ways to defend a home. Cameras are just one. They have their appropriate uses, and in the right cases can be a big part of your security. But it's not for everyone, and not where I would start. It's something to add on later.


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