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How your IP-camera security gets obsolete – fast!

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Maintaining an up-to-date IP camera surveillance system requires more than just a passing glance at the monitors. There are significant drawbacks to keeping equipment for too long. Not only is it dated, but there is a chasm between features available on older models, compared to what is available today.

Marc van Jaarsveldt, consultant, The Surveillance Factory, a system integrator, says there are many factors to consider when reviewing your security cameras to determine if an upgrade is required: “There are many factors to consider prior to upgrading and the option to extend the lifespan of your existing equipment must be appraised. The biggest challenge is to decide whether to keep abreast of new technology or to try and keep your system live for as long as possible. This trade-off does have implications for how effective your camera system is as a security tool.”

While getting value out of your initial investment is key, there is no denying the leap that surveillance technology has made in the past five years and what this means in terms of camera technology features and benefits if you do decide to upgrade your system.

When reviewing the system, van Jaarsveldt says that the camera lifespan will generally be impacted by the quality of the equipment purchased at the outset, the current operating environment and maintenance schedule as well as the client’s overall appetite for improvements made to the system.

In a typical surveillance scenario, a quality camera may have a lifespan of between five and ten years, while a less expensive model may only survive for three years. “This will be impacted by the environment as an outdoor camera, for example, will be exposed to harsher elements. There are temperature changes, rain, dust, moving parts (on PTZ cameras) and even electrical surges to contend with, all of which can affect the camera” says van Jaarsveldt.

He cautions that camera lifespans do vary based on the manufacturer. Not all camera brands can survive in the field for ten-years: “The average warranty period for a camera is three years, with a possible extension to five years. Being out of warranty, however, does not mean it doesn’t work, it will simply cost more to repair, should something go wrong.”

If longevity is a goal, then maintenance of the system is critical. Van Jaarsveldt says that while this does not impact the overall lifespan significantly, it can make a difference to its functionality: “Simply cleaning the cameras will help, especially if they are in a harsh environment where they are exposed to sun, dust, water or chemicals from industrial processes. By cleaning the camera housings and lenses you are able to slow down the rate at which the hardware degrades or deteriorates. This can prolong the life of a camera. Also check for and remove nesting insects such as wasps, ants and spiders from camera housings.”

While it is understandable that users want to get the most value out of the system and enjoy a longer lifespan, the biggest influence and challenge to maintaining an up-to-date system is the rapid rate of technology development. While cameras five years ago offered an acceptable 720p resolution (1MP), today’s cameras routinely offer 3MP, 5MP resolutions and even the much talked about 4k, which is 8MP.

“The fact is that cameras five years ago are in no way a comparison to what is currently available. Even the best IP camera then could not compare with what is available now,” says van Jaarsveldt. “This makes the challenge more complicated as newer technology offers so much more value for a security environment where the quality of video footage is so important.”

He says that for some industries, such as retail, this lag in technology poses a significant risk and threat to the business: “There are certain sectors that simply can’t afford to fall behind the technology curve. While the older systems may still work, the reality is that a new system will offer more functionality and significantly more value to the business.”

An example according to van Jaarsveldt is the fact that older generation cameras offer lower quality images due to much lower resolutions and substantially less advanced light management such as WDR: “Earlier generations of cameras don’t offer good resolution with excellent light management, exposure and contrast control and wide dynamic range (WDR). While the new generation IP cameras offer far superior resolutions and most end users tend to accept 2MP or even 3MP as the entry level resolution.”

These higher resolutions offer more detailed images and when the video is analysed for incidents or events, this additional resolution is critically important. Newer IP cameras also offer superior light management, automatically allowing for big variances in contrast to be eliminated by combining multiple images.

“In security environments, where light contrast affects the cameras significantly, this is a very important feature. The camera is now able to produce video footage of a far higher quality and this provides improved security and forensic value,” explains van Jaarsveldt.

He says that while older systems may still be useful, clients need to be aware of the ramifications of keeping the older hardware in the field for too long: “If a complete camera swap out is not affordable, then review your cameras and replace the ones that are used in higher risk areas with newer models. Note that cameras with vastly higher resolutions may affect the performance of the back end recording server or NVR as well.”

By working with reputable system integrators, clients should be made aware of the specific components of their camera system that need to be retired and replaced. “Surveillance systems are generally in place for a good reason, it is imperative that they are upgraded as necessary and maintained appropriately,” says van Jaarsveldt.

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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MWC: Next generation of inflight connectivity to be unveiled

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Next week at Mobile World Congress, the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal progress on its mission towards enabling the next generation of inflight connectivity. This follows a significant start for the Alliance, which has seen membership increase five-fold since the first meeting in June of last year. The Alliance has a new research laboratory setup and continues progress through its three working groups, writing specifications for the technology, requirements, and operations.

These developments represent a huge leap towards the goal of making connectivity as easy and enjoyable in the skies as it is on the ground. Appearing as part of the Airbus stand (Hall 6, stand 6G34), the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal specification topics that have been completed and published to its membership.

“The passenger experience with inflight connectivity remains one of the great technology challenges. From Day One we have been determined to deliver on our mission to bring industries and technologies together to make the inflight internet experience simple to access and a delight to use,” said the Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, Jack Mandala.

“I have been tremendously encouraged by the enthusiastic and committed response we have seen and the widening areas of expertise we can call upon as more and more companies and organisations continue to join us,” he added.

Announced during MWC 2018, the Seamless Air Alliance has since grown to twenty-three membercompanies with more than one-hundred key personnel from across the membership participating in its three working groups, with numbers continuing to increase.

The Seamless Air Alliance was created by founding members Airbus, Airtel, Delta Air Lines, OneWeb and Sprint, and quickly joined by Air France KLM, Aeromexico, and GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes and global technology leaders including Astronics, Collins Aerospace, Comtech, Cyient, iDirect, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Latecoere, Nokia, and Panasonic. 

Today, the Alliance is pleased to announce five additional new members: Adaptive Channel, Etihad Airways, GlobalReach Technology, Safran, and SITAONAIR.

“We are extremely pleased to have these companies join and be a part of the companies driving the next generation of connectivity.” said Mr Mandala.

The Seamless Air Alliance will enable travelers boarding any flight, on any airline, anywhere in the world, to use their own devices to automatically connect to the Internet with no complicated login process nor paywall to scramble over.

The Alliance is also announcing the release of a new research study on the economic benefit of standardization on the inflight connectivity market at Mobile World Congress. This report is available for download at https://www.seamlessalliance.com/publications/

The Alliance is moving rapidly towards an expected demonstration of the technology later in 2019 and anticipates massive interest in Barcelona from the whole communications eco-system.

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