“I’m Watching You Wazowski, Always Watching…”

Images of Roz from the beloved Disney film may not seem to fit the field of information security, but her words are the same way many of us feel about surveillance cameras today: it’s like Uncle Sam is saying “I’m watching you, always watching!”. While it’s true that big brother has far overstepped his bounds when it comes to the number and placement of public security cameras today and how they are used, private security cameras do actually have a vital role to play in your own deterrence, validation, and protection as a small business. Read on as we explore the need for security cameras, how they can be useful, and what to look for when choosing a system for your business!

Let’s start by exploring why you might need security cameras in your particular situation. While it’s true that you probably make sure to lock your doors, lock your cash register if you have one and other preventative measures, cameras take that one step further to deter potential criminals by knowing they are being recorded. Knowing that you’re on camera is a psychological factor and it takes a lot to still destroy property, break and enter, shoplift, or start a disturbance with employees or other customers once you know that. Most would be criminals can tell the difference between a fake camera and a real one though, so just buying the plastic stick up decoys doesn’t really help. Also, if a situation does occur having properly placed cameras helps law-enforcement or lawyers know the full story so that you are protected. If a customer becomes irate with an employee and then blames you, or in the unlikely event someone does break in or destroy property, the footage will become evidence and make it much easier to validate your insurance claims or help law-enforcement identify the individuals involved to stop it from happening again.

The key with what’s covered above is an appropriate camera set up that is properly placed. While buying a pre-boxed system from Amazon or Walmart may be tempting because of cost, or to buy connected cloud cameras like Ring, Nest, or Blink, they both suffer from two main problems. The first being many preboxed systems are produced very cheaply by brands that rotate every few years, meaning when you need replacement parts as things begin to degrade, the brand you purchased may not exist anymore (along with being low-quality to begin with). The second is with cloud-only cameras; either they only record during motion events, losing context surrounding your situation, or they hog a lot of internet bandwidth during their upload time, as many of the newer models record in 4K at 60 frames per second. While looking cool on paper and possibly a good fit for a residential environment, that kind of overkill on resolution means your internet connection may suffer due to upload constraints or you may even lose footage if not enough bandwidth is available at the time the clip is taken. To overcome these two obstacles and ensure a quality system that will last, it’s important to buy from a reputable brand name and use an on-site video recording solution. A hybrid solution which records locally first and then uploads it to another server is great if it can be secured, but using cloud only is not a good option for any business environment. It’s akin to putting all your eggs in one basket that has holes in the bottom. A couple reputable manufacturers we recommend at CJC Solutions are are Amcrest and Ubiquiti, although other excellent choices exist.

Speaking of cloud connected solutions, what about live access to footage? What about the privacy of your video while it’s being stored? Those are both great points that are important to address. If you work in an industry that is relatively low risk from a sophisticated attacker’s standpoint, such as a small retail business, construction, or similar having an on-site solution in a locked room or having a hybrid cloud solution is perfectly appropriate. If you work in an industry such as telecommunications, engineering, or the financial industry for example, those are higher risk for a complicated attack (one which disables your cameras during a break-in for example, or steals video footage) and it’s best to engage the assistance of a professional company to work through the challenges of regulatory compliance and ensuring your camera solution is not less susceptible.

In conclusion, there are many reasons why having a solid private camera solution can be helpful. From being able to validate insurance claims, to a sense of security for those present at your facility, to deterrence for crime and altercations, it’s a great investment in your organization. Making sure that you use a quality system from a reputable source, that your data stays private, and that you engage the assistance of a professional in the field when necessary you can ensure a great result that will protect you, your customers, and your business environment. If you need assistance choosing a solution for your specific situation, or would like a referral to some local providers that may be a good fit, please reach out to us. We would be glad to help start you on this journey!

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