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How poor cam choice becomes security risk

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Poor surveillance camera placement along with a bad solution design could end up compromising a security system and may render some cameras of little to no security value, says MARC VAN JAARSVELDT, consultant for The Surveillance Factory.

Despite the exciting features of today’s video surveillance cameras, poor solution design and poor camera placement compromises the end result and renders most cameras of little or no security value. He says that this ultimately results in a camera-system that may fail to solve security challenges on a site.

There is a clear lack of risk-analysis skills and the ability to design a solution that offers to maximise security value. What clients need today is a detailed site-audit and a resulting solution that solves security challenges and enhances the client’s awareness of their security environment.

Traditionally, video surveillance systems have been poorly designed and are still compromised despite the plethora of advanced features that cameras now have: Todays IP cameras can take advantage of some incredible features that they now offer: ultra-high resolution, advanced WDR (wide dynamic range), built in analytics and edge storage. But the design methodology used often does not make the best use of these features and fails to deliver on a security level.

The Surveillance Factory has seen many camera solutions constructed using what is referred to as a “general-overview” camera: These cameras are chosen to provide a wide or broad overview of a large area giving the sense that this area is adequately surveilled, but in reality, they offer nothing more than a bird’s-eye or panoramic view with no specific intention to manage risk within that area. If there is an incident of any kind, there is often no forensic value contained within the video footage because the overview is too wide and the camera, despite the fact that it may be a high resolution camera, is not performing a specific function by viewing an identified target.

In nearly all cases the video-camera position selected was incorrect. Placing it too far away and not using it to manage a specific area, makes it generally impossible to identify a target. The issue lies in the camera’s inability to capture the right number of pixels-on-target required for identification from that distance and position.

The solution lies in selecting the correct video camera suited to a specific area and more importantly, making certain that the camera addresses a specific risk and does not fall into the general overview trap: “You will then get excellent, high quality footage all the time and when video evidence is required, it will offer forensic value as the camera will provide clear images that cannot be contested.

Interestingly, he says that in South Africa, with its high crime rates, cameras are frequently pressure-tested and security managers often end up with useless footage that has no evidentiary value: This brings into question the entire premise that the camera system installed is valuable to the organisation and is actually enhancing security.

The average number of cameras deployed per site has steadily been increasing and this trend reinforces the need for system integrators to design solutions more carefully.

Here are some tips for selecting a camera and designing a solution:

1.    Choose your video cameras and positions carefully. Have a specific surveillance goal in mind for each device.

2.    Avoid general-overview cameras unless they are needed for an operational or process-control reason (e.g. to view an assembly or production line in a factory).

3.    Make sure that the camera resolution is high enough so that the footage it generates has evidentiary value. i.e. the number of pixels-on-target should agree with the standards for detection and identification, that the camera and VMS manufactures all publish.

4.    Select fewer high-resolution cameras that record at a decent frame-rate (no less than 15fps) for a shorter time frame, as opposed to many lower-resolution cameras recording at low frame-rate for a long period of time.

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Legion gets a pro makeover

Lenovo’s latest Legion gaming laptop, the Y530, pulls out all the stops to deliver a sleek looking computer at a lower price point, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Gaming laptops have become synonymous with thick bodies, loud fans, and rainbow lights. Lenovo’s latest gaming laptop is here to change that.

The unit we reviewed housed an Intel Core i7-8750H, with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. It featured dual storage, one bay fitted with a Samsung 256GB NVMe SSD and the other with a 1TB HDD.

The latest addition to the Legion lineup has become far more professional-looking, compared to the previous generation Y520. This trend is becoming more prevalent in the gaming laptop market and appeals to those who want to use a single device for work and play. Instead of sporting flashy colours, Lenovo has opted for an all-black computer body and a monochromatic, white light scheme. 

The laptop features an all-metal body with sharp edges and comes in at just under 24mm thick. Lenovo opted to make the Y530’s screen lid a little shorter than the bottom half of the laptop, which allowed for more goodies to be packed in the unit while still keeping it thin. The lid of the laptop features Legion branding that’s subtly engraved in the metal and aligned to the side. It also features a white light in the O of Legion that glows when the computer is in use.

The extra bit of the laptop body facilitates better cooling. Lenovo has upgraded its Legion fan system from the previous generation. For passive cooling, a type of cooling that relies on the body’s build instead of the fans, it handles regular office use without starting up the fans. A gaming laptop with good passive cooling is rare to find and Lenovo has shown that it can be achieved with a good build.

The internal fans start when gaming, as one would expect. They are about as loud as other gaming laptops, but this won’t be a problem for gamers who use headsets.

Click here to read about the screen quality, and how it performs in-game.

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Serious about security? Time to talk ISO 20000

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By EDWARD CARBUTT, executive director at Marval Africa

The looming Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act in South Africa and the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU) have brought information security to the fore for many organisations. This in addition to the ISO 27001 standard that needs to be adhered to in order to assist the protection of information has caused organisations to scramble and ensure their information security measures are in line with regulatory requirements.

However, few businesses know or realise that if they are already ISO 20000 certified and follow Information Technology Infrastructure Library’s (ITIL) best practices they are effectively positioning themselves with other regulatory standards such as ISO 27001. In doing so, organisations are able to decrease the effort and time taken to adhere to the policies of this security standard.

ISO 20000, ITSM and ITIL – Where does ISO 27001 fit in?

ISO 20000 is the international standard for IT service management (ITSM) and reflects a business’s ability to adhere to best practice guidelines contained within the ITIL frameworks. 

ISO 20000 is process-based, it tackles many of the same topics as ISO 27001, such as incident management, problem management, change control and risk management. It’s therefore clear that if security forms part of ITSM’s outcomes, it should already be taken care of… So, why aren’t more businesses looking towards ISO 20000 to assist them in becoming ISO 27001 compliant?

The link to information security compliance

Information security management is a process that runs across the ITIL service life cycle interacting with all other processes in the framework. It is one of the key aspects of the ‘warranty of the service’, managed within the Service Level Agreement (SLA). The focus is ensuring that the quality of services produces the desired business value.

So, how are these standards different?

Even though ISO 20000 and ISO 27001 have many similarities and elements in common, there are still many differences. Organisations should take cognisance that ISO 20000 considers risk as one of the building elements of ITSM, but the standard is still service-based. Conversely, ISO 27001 is completely risk management-based and has risk management at its foundation whereas ISO 20000 encompasses much more

Why ISO 20000?

Organisations should ask themselves how they will derive value from ISO 20000. In Short, the ISO 20000 certification gives ITIL ‘teeth’. ITIL is not prescriptive, it is difficult to maintain momentum without adequate governance controls, however – ISO 20000 is.  ITIL does not insist on continual service improvement – ISO 20000 does. In addition, ITIL does not insist on evidence to prove quality and progress – ISO 20000 does.  ITIL is not being demanded by business – governance controls, auditability & agility are. This certification verifies an organisation’s ability to deliver ITSM within ITIL standards.

Ensuring ISO 20000 compliance provides peace of mind and shortens the journey to achieving other certifications, such as ISO 27001 compliance.

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