New Feature: Camera Tamper Detection

CheckMyCCTV Camera Tamper Detection launched

A CCTV system is only as good as the images it is recording. So if your cameras have been tampered with, your CCTV system may be as good as useless if the cameras are not recording the intended target area.

The problem is, how do you know when they have been moved? If the cameras are tampered with the system would carry on recording and the user would be blissfully unaware that their CCTV system is severely compromised. A manual check could be done, but this would be a hugely time consuming exercise comparing a ‘reference’ image against the current image.

CheckMyCCTV already monitors for camera faults, but it now goes one step further and monitors for camera tampering.

How does it work?

The Camera Tamper Detection function in CheckMyCCTV works by taking snapshots from each camera every day at user defined times (usually one during the day, and one at night). These are analysed and compared with images from the previous day, if the new image changes its view by more than user defined threshold, an alert is generated.

Camera Tamper Detection is a semi-automatic check, meaning that although CheckMyCCTV will generate an alert when the image has changes above a certain threshold. It is designed to augment manual camera checks, giving the operator an indication that a camera may need to be investigated further.

What can it detect?

Using the Camera Tamper Detection feature, CheckMyCCTV can now monitor and report when cameras are moved, obscured, covered, or sprayed, using existing network connected CCTV recorders without having to purchase additional equipment.

A typical application for Camera Tamper Detection could be in a shop or retail environment, where cameras are trained on the Till areas, or at entrance/exit doorways of buildings. An alert would be triggered if these important cameras are moved or obscured.

We’re not going to claim that camera tamper detection is 100% accurate, it is designed as an automated ‘first pass’ to give the operator a means of quickly checking whether reported cameras have indeed been tampered with.

 

Why is your CCTV not password protected?

We’ve all seen the recent stories of pretty much any device or account being hacked for malicious means; phones, bank accounts, email accounts, Twitter, Facebook etc. etc.

But what about CCTV systems? There are more and more systems being connected online to allow remote viewing, but how safe are they from hackers?

Whilst we have been installing CheckMyCCTV on customers’ sites, it’s been astonishing just how many systems either use the manufacturers default password, or no password at all – 8 out of 10 CCTV systems were using the manufacturers default password.

If a CCTV system is connected to a broadband line and is using the default passwords it can be very easy for an unauthorised user to gain access and do some or all of the following:

  • View and copy images from the CCTV system.
  • Reboot or shutdown the system.
  • Stop cameras from recording.
  • Disable alarms or connection to a Remote Video Receiving Centre (RVRC).
  • Delete or overwrite recordings.
  • Lock out authorised users.

You wouldn’t install a lock and give a key to anyone who happens to knock on the door – which is exactly what you’re doing if you don’t change the default passwords.

Check with the manufacturer regarding how to change the passwords, and put it on your checklist to complete before signing the site off – The integrity of your customers’ CCTV system and your reputation may depend on it.

Has your CCTV been tampered with?

We’ve all seen Hollywood movies and TV dramas showing criminals tampering with CCTV systems prior to committing the crime.

Admittedly, they’re often pretty far fetched, but there are methods used by everyday criminals or disenfranchised employees to tamper with CCTV systems and leave them vulnerable.

Here’s 5 ways that your security system could be compromised through tampering, and how to detect that it is happening…

  1. Disconnected Cameras – A pretty basic one, a CCTV system can’t record what it can’t see. If the power or video cables can be seen by a would-be criminal, they can be disconnected. Check that cameras have not been disconnected from the system, especially ones around opportunist targets such as POS areas or Staff exits.
  2. Camera Tampering – As a camera that is disconnected produces an alarm condition, cameras are often moved, obscured, or otherwise tampered with to ensure the system is not recording the criminal activity. Check that the cameras are pointing where they should be, and the image is not obscured or blocked. It’s worth taking a snapshot reference image from each camera and comparing against that.
  3. Time or Date Adjustment – Adjusting the date or time on a DVR may be used to cover up a crime being committed, or at least make it difficult to find. Check that the time and date is accurate, there may only be a few minutes discrepancy either way, but that’s all it takes.
  4. Disarming the system – Some CCTV systems may use a keyswitch or timer to Arm or Disarm the alarms – especially if it is being monitored remotely. If a system has been accidentally (or purposely) left in a disarmed state then it may be leaving the site vulnerable. Check that your RVRC is receiving alarms from your site at the expected times.
  5. Disconnecting Alarms – If the site connects to a central monitoring station on alarm activations, damaged or disconnected alarm sensors can leave the site vulnerable by not signalling alarm triggers back at the central station. It could be many days before the central station realises that alarms are not triggering. Again, check that your RVRC is receiving the expected amount of alarms.

If you think it seems like a lot of work to check that your systems have not been tampered with and make sure they are working – you’re absolutely right, it would take a huge amount of resource to conduct these tests even once a day.

Fortunately, CheckMyCCTV automatically detects and reports suspected CCTV tampering and system faults every hour of every day, protecting your assets, property, staff, and your company’s bottom line.

If you are responsible for the upkeep of your company’s security systems, or if you play an active role in reducing shrinkage, try CheckMyCCTV FREE for 14-days and check the status of your CCTV systems today.

Visit us at IFSEC 2011

Come and visit us at IFSEC 2011 at the Birmingham NEC on 16th-19th May, where we’ll be demonstrating some exciting new features to make it even easier to ensure your CCTV systems are working right now.

Find us at Hall 5/B118 on the Basson Trade CCTV stand.

Did your CCTV system change to Summer Time?

The clocks went forward on Sunday 27th March, so it’s crucial that the time on your CCTV systems is adjusted to compensate. Last year, about a third of CCTV systems monitored by CheckMyCCTV did not update the daylight saving time, so were running 1-hour out for some time before they were adjusted.

Time and date information is critical with any CCTV system. If it is incorrect it can lead to issues searching for video evidence and events, especially if these are tied to times from other sources such as Till Receipts or ANPR collection. But not only that, if your system uses recording or alarm schedules it can mean your CCTV is not giving you the recording coverage you expect.

Recording schedules can change the record or quality patterns of the CCTV system, so it may adjust the quantity or quality of images from certain cameras at different times, if the CCTV clock is not adjusted, the record schedule will be incorrect.

Likewise, an Alarm Schedule may affect when alarms can be triggered on the system, this is especially important if your alarms are fed back to an RVRC (Remote Video Receiving Centre), as they will not receive alarms at the expected scheduled times.

CheckMyCCTV users were alerted if their CCTV systems did not change to Summer Time. Check that your CCTV system has adjusted the time using our FREE 14-day Trial.


Visit all your sites, without leaving your seat

With today’s high fuel costs, making unnecessary maintenance visits to customers’ sites can add a pretty high hidden cost to your bottom line. For example, a typical 100 mile round trip will cost in excess of £15. In isolation that may not seem a great amount, but how many miles do your service engineers cover in a month?

CheckMyCCTV can reduce the number of service visits you make by connecting to all your sites and automatically diagnosing issues before an engineer goes anywhere near the site. If a site visit is required, it can be made with all the correct replacement parts and tools without having to make a return trip, saving fuel, time, and manpower, and in an ever increasing green economy, reduce your carbon footprint.

CheckMyCCTV can not only help reduce the number of service visits, but also ensure service visits are more targeted, and improve efficiency within a service team. This was demonstrated to us this week when a hard disk failure was reported by a CheckMyCCTV monitored system – the end user was blissfully unaware of any issues because the system looked like it was operating correctly, it just wasn’t recording!

The installer was immediately alerted to the hard disk failure by CheckMyCCTV, which also indicated the required replacement hard disk size. The installer then contacted the customer to let them know they would visit to repair the faulty unit, before they were even aware there was a fault.

One check, One call, One visit, One happy customer!

Try CheckMyCCTV now and see how it can improve your service efficiency.

Are your retail CCTV systems being checked?

CCTV is an integral part of retail loss prevention, security, and health and safety, and modern CCTV systems are powerful devices which store many days, weeks, or months of unattended footage.

Fit and forget?

Digital CCTV systems are often seen as a ‘fit and forget’ solution, and in an ideal world they would be, but the fact that they operate with very little human intervention can also mean that it could be many days, weeks, or months before any problems are noticed, and often only after an incident has occurred.

There are plenty of things that can reduce the operational performance of a CCTV system at any time – such as cameras becoming faulty or being tampered with, the hard disk storage failing, alarm connections coming loose, and even the clock loosing accuracy.

Supplement your maintenance contract

Even in this digital era, when many CCTV systems are connected to networks, maintenance contracts are still based on one or two site visits a year from the installer to ensure that the systems are working effectively, but this can leave a large part of the year when your stores are vulnerable if there is a failure.

Manual checking can be a time consuming and mundane task, especially across multiple sites. This is where CheckMyCCTV can help by running multiple operation checks on all your CCTV systems every hour of every day, alerting you when any of issues are detected so they can be resolved quickly with reduced downtime and maintenance costs.

CheckMyCCTV is used to monitor thousands of retail stores to reduce the risk of faulty CCTV systems, contact us at sales@nullcheckmysystems.com for a FREE 14-day trial or to discuss how CheckMyCCTV can help you.

 

Dahua Technology Integration released to Beta

As part of CheckMyCCTV’s continual development, we are adding support for additional brands and products. The first of which is Dahua Technology, a leading manufacturer of security and surveillance equipment, which has now been released for Beta testing.

Dahua Technology provide OEM DVR/NVR solutions for Apollo, C2Max, DVR365, IntelliPix, Q-See, Watchman and others. If you use any of these brands and wish to participate in our Beta test programme, please contact us at support@nullcheckmysystems.com

New Release: CheckMyCCTV version 1.1.4

CheckMyCCTV version 1.1.4 is now available to download. This version fixes a few minor issues we had found or reported by customers using feedback@nullcheckmysystems.com. Current users can update their software by clicking Help > Check for updates and follow on-screen instructions.

1.1.4 Changelog:

CHANGED – Map web pages available locally for sites without access to CheckMySystems website.

FIXED – Screen at 1024 x 768 resolution do not display test configuration page correctly.

FIXED – When you initially create a Customer, a Site icon is displayed where the Set/Unset Icon should be.

Check your multi-site CCTV installations today

CheckMyCCTV is ideal for monitoring the operation and status of your multi-site installations, especially when sites are located over large geographic areas, are unmanned, or you just need the reassurance that your CCTV systems are working.

It is often difficult to know at any point in time whether your sites are operational, checking manually can be time consuming, repetitive and often inaccurate, especially if there are 10’s or 100’s of sites to check.

CheckMyCCTV not only checks the health of your entire CCTV estate, but also that your sites are configured and operating correctly. Typical operational checks include:

  • Checking that the alarms are operational.
  • Ensuring the site operator is arming/disarming the site.
  • Ensuring that alarms are being monitored by the RVRC,
  • Checking that the system is recording for the required duration, and
  • Checking that the Time and Date of the recordings are accurate.

CheckMyCCTV’s easy to use interface will always keep you up to date with the status of all your sites, no matter where they are.

CheckMyCCTV offers an incredible value proposition for peace of mind – typically less than 1% of the cost of your CCTV installation to monitor your site for a year.

Contact us for a quote or to sign up for a free 14-day trial.