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As part of the off-the-grid series, this may be one of the hardest subjects I have to write on. This is the process I’m following(ish)
The overall aim of the post
It was as a result of the recent security issues with Swann, Wyze & now Xaiomi that I started this series. Now I actually get to the CCTV post, I realise just how many variables there are to take into account.
- Do you want cloud storage (I’ll be focusing primarily on local storage)
- How many cameras?
- Internal or external?
- Motion detection?
- How many days storage?
- Preferred price-range
Get a list of manufacturers
Once I have a list of potential CCTV manufacturers, there are a number of things I have to take into account:
Do they have a website… they should, but it’s not essential
Do they have an array of products? I’ve found that if a manufacturer only has a few products, they tend not to be too good. They may be selling rebranded products as part of a bigger general store. Obviously, there are obviously exceptions.
The initial interface. I get a feel for this from screenshots, downloading product guides and reading reviews etc. An ideal interface should be intuitive and secure.
Security – I absolutely hate it when a CCTV system comes with a user interface that has a default username and password on it. Even worse, is a blank password. This makes it easy for others to gain access to the system.
After taking a quick look at 5 or 6 manufacturers, I have seen a few decent implementations, such as scanning the unique id from the system hardware & verifying the users’ email address in order to give them login information. Each of these attempts is a big improvement on the old default of “admin” and “pass”. In this day and age, I consider a basic default set of credentials to be an insult to users and immediately discounts the manufacturer from progressing further in the process.
Does the system have local storage or cloud-based storage? Although I have nothing per se against cloud-based storage,
Local storage allows for greater control of your data but can come at a price. If you are out a lot or the unit on which the CCTV coverage is at risk of being stolen during a break-in, then you may need to think local storage.
Myself, I spend about 22 hours a day glued to the same sofa-bed in the living room, so there is very little chance of a successful break-in.
I am not a fan of systems that store your media in the cloud and then charge a subscription fee if you want to look at events that happened over 24 hours ago.
If you’re not aware, the aim of this series is to see how many of our cloud-based services can be brought under our own security and ownership. That being said, just because we stop using cloud storage, it doesn’t mean our details are safe.
For instance, a lot of places, allow you to store your media locally, but they store your details on their system so they can connect your mobile device and the main system.
Note: this is how I assume it works and is something I still have to look in to.
Home Assistant integration
It’s not essential, but it would be nice if I could connect my system to Home Assistant. so that I can display the cameras as camera entities, and maybe have binary sensors activated when motion is detected on the cameras.
My ideal system
As I am comparing systems, I will be looking for the system I am after so that when it gets later into the process, I can compare like for like including prices etc
- Wired 8ch NVR, 1-2TB HDD,
- locally administered users
- no credentials stored with the external entity
- secures setup process & not just “admin”/”pass” as default credentials
- I don’t mind setting up port forwarding
- 4 x 1080p cameras
- Android/iOS apps with remote viewing & event notifications
- Preferably H.265/H.265+
- 2-year warranty would be nice
- PoE would be nice also
Obviously the above is a personal wishlist. It is something that I want, and of course, I’m aware that people’s tastes vary drastically. But here’s the thing. For the most of it: If I can find a company that does a system that satisfies my wishlist, they will be able to satisfy other peoples wish lists.
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- Swann’s home security camera recordings could be hijacked
- Wyze Massive Data Leak
- Google Blocks Xiaomi Smart Home Devices from Assistant Following Camera Feed Mix Up
As always, my featured image comes from Unsplash & is by Bernard HermantBernard Hermant