A Beginner’s Guide To DIY CCTV

Crime levels are creeping up and the budgets which police have are on the decline. If you want to protect your home and property from burglary or criminal damage it’s becoming ever more necessary to deter burglars and vandals yourself rather than expecting the threat of detection and conviction to put off opportunists and career criminals. Wireless CCTV cameras are just the ticket.

Burglar alarms used to do the trick, but people got used to seeing those yellow boxes attached to the wall, rusted and broken down, and now they offer no deterrent at all. If you want to put off burglars today it’s worth investing in CCTV cameras and security lighting to cover the outside of your home.

Security cameras are becoming ever cheaper and easier to find on the high-street. Being wireless they can be positioned anywhere you think they will be the most useful, covering windows and doors, gates, outbuildings, garages and sheds. But how do you keep your security devices secure?

Before You Do Anything, Ensure Your Security Is Secured

First of all you need to adequately secure your CCTV cameras on your home WiFi network. It’s no good spending time and effort putting up multiple cameras if they can be disabled, or even used to spy on you by anyone with a laptop within range of your house. Start by password protecting all of the cameras. Use long and complex passwords and change the usernames of the devices too. If you make it hard to even find the cameras you make it that much harder for them to be hacked.

It’s important that the data which is being sent from the camera to your home network, and thence onward to a secure website, your computer, tablet or phone is thoroughly encrypted. It needs to be SSL, WPA2 or TLS secured and the devices it’s being sent to also need to be adequately secured. Imagine if your phone or laptop that wasn’t password protected was part of their haul. Not only annoying to replace, but it could also be used it to access the footage and delete the evidence you had gone to such ends to capture.

You need to be aware of where you are watching from too. If you watch from a shared network in a public place, such as a café, bar or library for example, your data could be ‘sniffed,’ identifying your log in details. If you need to watch somewhere unsecured, use a VPN or Virtual Private Network as this will effectively conceal your online activity, making it almost impossible to find your digital identity.

Think about where you’re going to locate the CCTV devices before putting them up. They not only need to cover the access points, but to be really effective they need to cover each other too. If someone can walk up behind a camera and knock it down without being seen, it was useless in the first place. Consider blind spots. Hedges, bushes, narrow alleys or spaced between outbuildings or projections all produce areas which can’t easily be covered by your cameras if they’re aimed exclusively at your doors and windows. So instead of thinking about where they’re going to get in, think as well about how burglars are going to get close to your hose in the first place. Having their face on camera even as they walk up to your property is going to be enough to put off any opportunists and most professionals as soon as they start to think about targeting your home.

Put them up high. But not too high

To be effective the camera needs to capture the face of anybody approaching your property, but they also need to be out of reach of anybody who’s intent on gaining access. Most modern cameras are motion activated and many also come equipped with speakers and mics which can be used to communicate with visitors, be they legitimate or nefarious. Activation only when they detect motion means that they don’t waste battery life or bandwidth, they only send data via a secure router to a website or app, meaning you can watch what’s happening at your home from work, on vacation, or simply from the comfort of your own home.

While you want to cover the front door to see who’s coming, it’s a good idea not to show identifying features. If you have a burglar alarm or entry code, ensure that access panels can’t be seen either. That way, if there is any kind of data breach which makes your footage available to third parties, it can’t be used to identify your home or the codes you use to keep people out.
As well as beginning to stream data upon activation, your cameras can be linked to security lights which no only deter unwelcome visitors, they are a warm welcome when you get home. The lights coming on and lighting your entrance, making it easy to find your keys and let yourself in safely.

While CCTV cameras are a great idea for securing your property against intruders, it’s important to consider the downside of webcams too. Home cameras are popular with people who want to watch their pets, their children and nannies, but they do present a vulnerability.

Home cameras, just as with any connected device, can be hacked. Once you lose control of your indoor camera it can be used to gather data about you, spy and also used as a gateway to your entire home network. They should be properly turned off when not in use in order to protect your home and family from intrusion, otherwise the footage can be used by voyeurs, stalkers, or burglars to look at your possessions, determine your habits and whether you’re at home at any given time of day.

Finally, as well as regularly updating your network security, including cameras, mics and smart speakers, keep up to date with antivirus and anti malware software updates and updates from the manufacturers. Sign up to their emails so that in the event of a software or security issue being identified you can install any security patches as soon as they become available.

If you’re in any doubt, contact a professional CCTV home security installer who can talk to you about all the issues concerning home security, online security and keeping your smart home safe from real and virtual intruders.

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