Saturday, March 26, 2011

Theres alot to concider when installing Cameras

Understanding Modern Digital Video Surveillance Systems
And Keeping the recording secure and court admission able

A young man sets a fire outside a local grocery store loading dock and is caught by the stores Surveillance Camera System in which police obtain a CD of the incident from the store manager who has called the local security company who has sent a tech to pull and record it.
The court hearing arrives and the young man walks free when the judge rejects the video during a suppression hearing despite the fact the young man is clearly visible in daylight and color .What went wrong.
3 items chain of custody a lack of a Water Mark on the CD to show tampering did not take place and the system is also Internet Accessible.
So how do you make sure you have a solid conviction and video evidence that will hold up in court . It starts with understanding the technology and its vulnerabilities.
In the old days surveillance systems were known as CCTV systems Closed Circuit Television Systems.
The earliest systems were composed of a Camera the size of a big shoe box and a small
9” B&W TV Monitor which had to be constantly watched and monitored ,which were developed in the early 60’s for business. Then in the early 70’s an easy to use tape recorder came on the market known as the VCR which used standard VHS Cassette tapes instead of some very expensive real to real recorders some sophisticated systems used or in the case of banks and savings and loans
which used stationery 35 MM film cameras. The VCR revolutionized camera systems allowing most business owners to install a camera and recording system for around $2500.00 a camera. As systems became more popular and affordable Electronics was totally revolutionizing Camera systems by eliminating tubes and allowing images to be captured on a Integrated chip set plus the advent of SMD Surface Mount Device technology which has allowed cameras to be miniaturized to the point they are almost totally un-recognizable .However VCR units lagged behind many could only real time record for several hours so to get around this they used a technique called Time Lapse recording now you could record up to 720 hours on one tape but one problem was the unit only took photos every few seconds allowing much activity to go on and not be recorded and then in a famous case with a nanny accused of child abuse in the UK a large lawsuit came forth after it was reveled the jerky film the VCR produced was wrongly used to convict the nanny and her case was thrown out . But finally after many years a VCR which could record 24 hrs real time on one tape .However 1 month at a time was what was really wanted but the units did the job most tapes easily went thru court challenges because it is hard to change video tape and tamper with it at the time but that was soon to change. In the late 90,s as portable computers became more powerful with there video capabilities like Apples I Book there came to be what is known as the DVR or Digital Video Recorder there are basically 3 types of DVR units one which is built into a desk top computer case via a line card and utilizes the computers hard drive for storage .The others are known as Embedded or dedicated units which
Are stand alone boxes with built in hard drive and software some of which the hard drive can be removed for allowing multiple hard drive archiving.
There are now IP Network based DVR systems known as NVR capable of recording 64 or more cameras real time for up to 1 yr or more as the technology jumps weekly.
Cameras have also drastically changed what was once a camera that had to be hooked up to a dedicated DVR box to be recorded there are now totally independent IP Based Cameras you can buy for your home and business under $200.00 and view over the internet.
While all of this is bringing us fantastic video we never would have gotten back in the old Analog Camera days the new technology can and has been challenged in court and been denied and beaten because of concerns over tampering. Every Digital device puts out a stream of I/O data which can be manipulated unless it is properly locked down and secured and even then hackers are beating even the most secure of systems every day.
So How do you insure what video you have when challenged in court will be able to meet the test .It starts with understanding which system you have who the manufacturer is and what its capabilities and vulnerabilities are. Systems today can be watched clear across the country or the world and in live real time by Central Station Security agencies paid to monitor sites 24/7. Systems can be as simple as a 4 camera system with a simple DVR box in a back room to multi camera multi technology systems all being used at once like in a casino.
Let’s start with the basic small system you might find at the corner convenience store. They likely have 4-8 cameras tied to one of 2 DVR units either an embedded DVR or a Desktop computer. The system may even be tied to the stores high speed computer or POTS line so the owner can look in when he is not there.

Ok here are questions which must be asked for even a very simple system.

No 1# is the DVR locked in a cabinet? If it is who has access what kind of locking mechanism is it a common key or is it open on a shelf so anyone has access. Does the DVR require codes to manipulate the buttons or can they be locked down were they locked down can it be proved on a log.

No2# If the DVR is a desk top computer type is it also used to do other programs and go online. If so who has access and when? Does the computer have Anti Virus, Anti Spy ware Anti Root Kit running and updated is it behind both a software and hardware firewall with up to date software.

No3# Does the DVR have a built in anti tamper system such as a Water Mark or other feature to warn when a video has been altered.

No4# Does the DVR have the capability to log who and when it was accessed.

No5#Does the DVR have a built in CD/DVD Burner so recordings can be instantly burned or does a tech have to come on site with a laptop to pull the recording and burn it.

No6# Is the tech who is pulling the video using a dedicated laptop just for pulling video or does he use it to access internet and other programs? Did he take all antivirus etc precautions does he use the lap top on WIFI or Cellular system which could be compromised.

No7# Does the DVR have a removable Hard drive who has keys and does DVR record when it has been removed.

No8# Is the DVR remote reviewable who has access how is it accessed Internet Browser based or special software or both what level of user and pass codes are used?
are they simple or complex the codes is it logged in DVR who accessed and when?

No9# Was video when it was pulled handed directly to police or court authorized officer or was it given to manager who gave it to officer at later time and date?

No10# were there any IP cameras tied to this DVR system is it a hybrid DVR

No11# Who installed ,programmed and services the system are they available to testify as to what there role is in the system if needed

If you can not answer all the above questions in my court to my satisfaction proper precautions were taken, your video has now been quashed period.

The reason as you can see there are so many ways the digital stream could be tampered with it is almost impossible to prevent it in some cases even with the water mark. Also what is there to taking the cd burn it back to a VCR tape and no one is the wiser. You bring a supposed VCR tape in which was originally digital and you can not tell unless very sophisticated examination is done so now even all tapes are suspicious. This is why absolute chain of custody must be kept and any copy’s etc noted and all master copy’s kept secure in the chain of custody.
Which brings us to tampering .Having worked for a company who is now defunct that did remote video recording I was called one day to go from Pittsburgh are to a Cleveland Ohio Welfare High rise on 13th street where a shooting had occurred overnight to retrieve the video for the police. The system consisted of 2 desk top computers DVR’s each with 16 cameras and when I went to pull the video yes you guessed right it was not there .The guards for the complex had used the computers online and gotten virus in them which crashed the hard drives and lost all possibility of retrieving the footage and remote site did not record the incident either suspect walked because no one would come forward.
Plus there are many other problems which can happen.
Lets say you have a recording involving a capital case on one of the cheaper DVR’s which have no CD/DVD Burner do you take the DVR as evidence and aggravate the store owner who now has no recording system in some cases I have impounded a unit then had a back up tape system I lent got there DVR back also what about the tech pulling the video is the officer right there when video was pulled which can take a while or did he go else where in store and come back to it. If he did chain of evidence is broken.
Ok have a given you a headache are you saying to your self what about my past cases “What If”?
If you are review them now and be ready in case a challenge arises as defense attorneys
Now its time to talk about hybrid and IP based systems

The IP Camera is a camera which can sit stand alone all by itself on an Intranet or Internet Connection and can be viewed by any computer on the network which has proper software or in some cases all that’s needed is an Internet Browser and user and password or it can be both .
A Hybrid DVR allows conventional cameras and IP cameras be connected to it.

When multiple IP cameras are used they are recorded to a NVR Network Video Recorder
It is basically a DVR that sits on the Intranet or Internet and records all feeds from cameras assigned to it. The record capability of IP cameras is fantastic however they come with a whole new set of concerns when it comes to tampering. Again all the video is broken down to a code stream of I/O’s which can be manipulated with any computer and the right software this is where the person installing and setting these cameras up have to be extremely skilled to insure they are not tampered with.
Let alone when the cameras are used behind a corporate systems Firewall. Which is a whole different subject.

So what questions should you be able to answer in court this time

No1# Is the IP camera system Hybrid or stand alone

No2#Is the IP system on its own dedicated wiring network or regular business network

No3# Where does camera video stream record to is it a secured location and how is it secured

No4# who set up the network a tech with some computer knowledge or a Microsoft or Cisco Certified Network or similar qualified technician

No5# Are cameras before or with in company firewall are cameras video streams encrypted or otherwise secured.

No6# Is video pulled from NVR watermarked or otherwise tamper resistant

No7# How is the NVR accessed Browser special software both what are the user and security levels who is allowed to view.

No8# Could you also apply any of the above questions from the first set of questions

Your head should be pounding right about now.
Now also consider the considerable headache when these IP cameras are behind a corporate fire wall with all your computers and some kiddy hacker gets into the video stream and then the company computers and it has happened.
This is one reason I am not putting in many of these cameras as there are not enough security features built in yet in many case’s.
So what can you do to help prevent problems use this checklist i have developed to answer all questions possible when you go to court.

This document at time of publication covers the best available information at the time but DVR/NVR technology is moving so fast it is very hard to keep up with
Wear by Nicholas J. Markowitz also known as Nick Markowitz Jr and Markowitz Electric &Integration
Shall not be held responsible for any inaccuracies and uses of this document are at own risk

Questionnaire for DVR NVR VCR Surveillance Systems

No1# Is the system stand alone VCR DVR or NVR or Hybrid

No2# Who is manufacturer of equiptment –Model numbers

No3# How many cameras on system and what type whose make and model

No4# DIY or Professional Install who installed ,programs maintains system.
Are they sup enable if needed for court to support your claim recording is not tampered with

No5# type of wiring method used Coax or Cat 5 with Balun’s

No6# is hard drive removable –common key -

No7# is there a built in CD/DVD/ or tape recorder what style or type?

No8# has DVR/NVR Manufacturer built in a Water Mark or other security feature can you show how it works?

No9# Does DVR/NVR have an activity log can it be dumped or otherwise displayed to court?

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