Can I Keep My Camera System On My Office Network?

Network-Norlando PobreWhether you are installing a new surveillance system or changing an existing one you need to consider the type of system and the operating implications associated with it.  The desire for advanced image quality, video analytics, ease of integration, and remote access has ushered in the era of IP (Internet Protocol) surveillance systems.  IP surveillance systems have opened the door to a more integrated security system and they provide increased scalability which is important to company growth and future adaptation.  This type of surveillance system typically relies on an internet network, and as they say “therein lies the rub.”

Should your surveillance system operate on the same internet network as your office computers?  The answer is not a simple yes or no.  The short answer being it certainly is a viable option, but it could depend on the size and type of business you run.  It’s also possible to set up an IP surveillance system on its own network but it may not be cost effective or necessary.  For these reasons it is imperative to consult a licensed security system professional when altering or adding a surveillance system.

When it comes to a company’s network there seems to be some trepidation about how and what devices can and should be allowed on it.  It’s understandable, a company’s network is often a basis for its everyday functions, but where does the worry come from?  A lot of it usually has to do with a communication gap between security integrators and IT professionals or end users.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed experts are able to provide clear and understandable information about the surveillance equipment we implement and how it will affect your company’s network.  We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Our team has witnessed and been a part of the migration from mainly analog surveillance to IP.

Let’s discover the common concerns about network devices and how they can be dissolved, but first we’ll review some quick terminology when talking about networks.  LAN, MAN, and WAN are three basic types of networks you’ll likely hear about from integrators and IT professionals.  Local area networks (LANs) are typically found at most small to medium sized businesses as they cover a smaller more specific area.  In all likelihood your company operates on a LAN network.  Metropolitan area networks (MANs) cover a larger area and are usually present in cities and across large campuses.  Wide Area Networks (WANs) provide the most coverage, anything from expansive distances to the whole world.  According to Fredrik Nilsson, general manager for Axis Communications in North America, WANs are often comprised of multiple smaller networks including LANs and MANs.

All networks are comprised of some sort of cabling and equipment such as switches, servers, and hubs.  The most popular type of network configuration used with LANs is called star.  A star configuration allows all network devices to be connected to a central point where if one device crashes the rest will remain in operation.  However, redundancies are typically incorporated to account for the possibility of a central station crash.

Now that terminology is out of the way, what are some of the major concerns one might have when adding surveillance equipment to a company network?  One of the most common is bandwidth consumption.  This often stems from companies that have had to deal with employees streaming or downloading videos via company networks which eats into the available bandwidth.  According to James Marcella, director of technical services for Axis Communications, IP surveillance equipment is wrongly accused when it comes to bandwidth consumption.  He says most IP cameras today can be customized to fit a company’s network and storage guidelines.  To help limit their consumption surveillance can be setup on a Virtual LANs (VLANs) which Marcella says, “prevents video traffic from grabbing the lion’s share of bandwidth.”

Then there’s the ever-present question, “what about hacking?”  In our world where virtually everything is connected through the IoT (Internet of Things), it’s hard not to worry about who can access private information and how that information is being protected.  Having surveillance equipment on the same network as your company computers may seem scary, but in reality, more oft than not, there are procedures in place to prevent hacker access.

When it comes to adding network devices and keeping the network safe authentication protocol and data encryption are key.  According to Marcella authentication protocol protects the network at the physical port level.  If someone were to unplug a network camera and try to plug in their own device, all “traffic” to that port’s switch would automatically be shut down as the foreign device wouldn’t have the proper authorization.  Data encryption is essentially creating a password to your network whether it’s wired or wireless.  This prevents someone from getting into your network or freeloading on your company’s internet.  Encryptions can be highly effective as long as they are not something obvious or easily guessed.

Lastly, network storage is a top concern.  This is often directly linked to bandwidth consumption concerns.  Due to high image quality of IP camera recordings it’s not uncommon for businesses to store video footage for longer periods of time.  Fortunately, with IP surveillance systems you don’t necessarily have to store recordings directly on the network.  For smaller installations there is the option to utilize in-camera storage through internal SD cards (Secure Digital Cards).  Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices and cloud-based systems are other viable options.  In order to determine which method is best for your company an evaluation of camera quantity and storage needs should be conducted.

Whether you are adding a new surveillance system or updating an existing one it’s imperative to consider the impact it will have on your company’s network, if any at all.  Always consult a licensed security system professional as they can help guide you or your IT department through the process from initial assessment to final installation.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We can help break down the communication barrier that sometimes creates apprehension when installing network devices.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Norlando Pobre-Flickr-Creative Commons

Using Cell Phones with Access Control Systems

Access-ErvinWe use our smartphones and other mobile devices for many functions in our daily lives. It’s almost impossible to go through an entire day without seeing someone tapping, scrolling, or swiping through their phone, never mind using your own phone. We’ve created a mobile environment where convenience lies in the palm of our hands.

Technological progression has taken us so far in a short amount of time; we can pay our bills on our phones, we can chat with someone a world away, we can make everyday purchases, and now they can be used as an extension of our security systems. In particular as a means of access control and authentication in commercial applications using near field communication (NFC). According to Jeremy Earles, Readers and Credentials Portfolio Manager for Allegion, NFC technology, “provides simplified transactions, data exchange and wireless connections between two devices that are in close proximity to each other…” This is essentially the same technology you may have seen advertised by Samsung where two phones can be tapped together to share information, see HERE.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. our team of licensed professionals provide comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey. We have been helping a wide range of businesses secure their facilities for over 20 years. As with any technology, progression in the realm of security components shows no signs of slowing. At Perfect Connections we realize it is our responsibility to stay on top of these changes and provide our clients with solutions that are current but practical as well.

NFC technology is an exciting new venture in access control applications. However, it has yet to become as ubiquitous as traditional access controls like key fobs, swipe cards, and proximity readers. One of the many reasons being NFC technology has yet to become an innate feature in the spectrum of devices in circulation today.

In theory NFC access control would work by allowing your employees and authorized users to utilize their mobile device, likely their cellphone, as their access credential. The user’s phone would have an embedded NFC chip that would wirelessly receive an authorized credential from an administrative control. This process can be similar to how you would download an app or retrieve information stored in a cloud service; or it could be easily managed by plugging the phone into an administrative device via a USB cord. Once the phone has the proper credential it can be used in the same fashion as a fob or proximity card, simply tap the phone or be within range of a reader that will grant or deny access. Imagine the convenience!

With 5.9 billion, or 87% of the world’s population, being mobile subscribers it’s no wonder NFC technology is creating buzz among end users and security integrators alike. Of those mobile subscribers 91% keep their phone within and arm’s length throughout the day and night. It only makes sense that phones would become part of integrated security protocols. With younger generations the desire for new and streamlined processes is endless, especially for those now entering the workforce. They don’t want to be bothered with having to search through their pockets or purses for badges or fobs when their phone like an extension of their hand. While NFC technology may not be the universal method for access control yet, the case for it exists today.

One of the many benefits NFC technology offers is no longer having to print or buy new ID badges which can be costly and time consuming. It also allows you to change credentials on and as needed basis. This would be helpful if you have a contract or temp worker who needs provisional access. You would simply send or upload a temporary credential to their phone and when their job is done you can delete access from the administrative network.

According to Ron Oetjen, president of Intelligent Access Systems (IAS), NFC technology saves money by not having to replace lost or stolen card credentials. Oetjen argues that security may be even better when using smartphones than cards or fobs considering how obsessively people guard them, and the fact that in order to use it as a credential the phone first has to be unlocked using a PIN or biometric identification. So many companies already employ a BYOD (bring your own device) policy at work that the transition would be easy for the user. If a phone is lost or stolen it can be remotely tracked, disabled, and/or wiped preventing an unauthorized user from gaining access.

Like any other developing technology, NFC is not perfect and consumer perception is still evolving. Currently one of the major drawbacks is that it’s not universally integrated in mobile phones and access readers. Certain manufacturers like Apple and Google have yet to include NFC technology in their devices making the user purchase external accessories that can be bulky and unattractive. Then there are some businesses that don’t want to lose the traditional ID badge that displays a photo of the user for security reasons. The issue of existing security infrastructure can be tricky too as it may require the removal and reinstallation of new system components which adds cost.

The world of security systems is constantly evolving. This requires integrators and end users to be aware of changes that will affect and potentially enhance their systems. NFC technology is an exciting addition to the access control component of a security system that will likely become more ubiquitous in the coming years. It will provide a new level of security and convenience that has yet to be fully realized. At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators are constantly educating themselves on changes in the industry and how they may benefit our clients. We provide comprehensive security systems that include access controls to businesses and facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey, and have been doing so since 1992. Our experts will help guide you through the process from an initial security assessment to final installation, implementing technologies that are not only effective but make sense for your specific situation.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Ervins Strauhmanis-Flickr-Creative Commons

How The IoT is Changing Physical Security

Jonathan Briggs-Network CableOur world is constantly changing and evolving.  Progression is an inevitable force that influences the way we live our daily lives.  This is especially true of advancements made in the techy devices we interact with on a daily basis.  Everything from our smartphones to our security systems.  It’s the manner in how we interact with all of these devices that is driving innovation and product design.  The internet and networking of devices is creating a connected environment that offers ultimate convenience and changes how we perceive the potential of security systems.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators provide comprehensive security systems to businesses and homes throughout northern and central New Jersey.  We believe in installing quality systems that are in line with the best technological advancements the market has to offer.  This doesn’t mean we use the trendiest devices for the sake of being “trendy,” it means evaluating current products that will add value and provide a platform for future adaptation.  With the Internet of Things (IoT) it’s imperative to implement devices that are not only relevant but can stand the test of time, within reason.

The definition of the IoT can be summed up as, “the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing internet infrastructure without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.”  This means devices that are able to “talk” to one another via an internet connection without third part interference.  An example would be a motion detector that automatically uploads a video clip to an authorized smartphone when it senses movement.  The IoT is influencing changes in security system components like video cameras, access controls, recording equipment, fire and burglar alarms, locks, and monitoring services.  The devices themselves are evolving but so is the manner in which end users and system operators interact with them.

A higher level of remote connectivity to security systems and their components is a result of the IoT.  End-users can now login to security systems and their devices via an app on their mobile device.  This would allow the business owner who is away on vacation to periodically check-in on the day-to-day by logging into their surveillance system on their smartphone.  The homeowner who forgot to lock their doors and arm their system can now do so remotely via a mobile device or computer.  Automated notifications can be setup to send an alert when an alarm is triggered, someone tries to gain entry without proper access credentials, when a camera or motion detector capture movement within their range; the possibilities are extensive and continue to be developed.

According to Steve Hausman, president of Hausman Technology Keynotes, we are still at the beginning of the “IoT revolution.”  Some research suggest by the year 2020 there will be over 30 billion wirelessly connected devices in operation.  With everything becoming more and more connected one has to wonder, what are the risks?  In this highly connected world, there is a plethora of data being recorded, stored, and shared but who has access and rights to this data?  Therein lies the problem.

As with anything connected to the internet, the risk of being hacked or stolen is inherent.  In the security world this would be a problem for IP cameras, cloud storage and recording solutions, networked access controls, and basically anything running on or connected to an internet network.  With that in mind, industry professionals and developers are continuously working on solutions to prevent and minimize vulnerability.

Hausman says, “Security standards need to be established and enforced at the design and manufacturing levels.  As the IoT evolves, we can also expect that society will not only adapt to its usefulness but come to expect that appropriate safeguards be implemented to ensure both privacy and security.”  Today, those “safeguards” are being provided by licensed security integrators who understand the risks associated with system automation and the IoT.  Often times this means strong encryptions for not only the network, but the connected devices as well.

The IoT isn’t something that’s going to disappear.  Its presence in the security industry will continue to shape the way manufacturers develop products and how they are implemented by security integrators.  As licensed professionals our integrators at Perfect Connections, Inc. provide comprehensive security system solutions to businesses and homes throughout northern and central New Jersey, and have been doing so for the past 23 years.  Our team has witnessed decades of advancements in the industry.  We realize it is our duty to continue our own education as well as offer knowledge to our customers when implementing new technologies and component counterparts.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Jonathan Briggs-Flickr-Creative Commons

What Is Web-Based Access Control?

Scott Lewis-smart lockThe technological climate is swiftly changing the way we connect and interact with the physical world.  Endless runs of cable and spaghetti wiring is becoming an antiquated notion with the development of wireless internet based equipment.  This is evident in the way some security system integrators are approaching system design and installation.  As industry professionals, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security system solutions to organizations throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  It is our goal to not only provide innovative security equipment, but implement components that are effective and make sense within a specific organization.

Access control has always been a top security concern for any establishment.  Whether it means using a lock and key, card reader, or fingerprint, it’s a means by which your business is shielded from unauthorized personnel.  As an integral part of a comprehensive security system, access control mechanisms need to function on the same level as their system counterparts.  Meaning software and technology updates/applications should apply across the board without disrupting the system as a whole.  IP (Internet Protocol)/web-based technologies are making the advancement of security system components more attainable and desirable to both end-users and system integrators.  This is evident in the continuing migration from analog based surveillance to IP.  Web-based technology is not exclusively transforming surveillance, but security systems as a whole, including access control mechanisms.

What does web-based/IP access control really mean?  Your typical access control system is made-up of software, card/badge readers, controllers, and credentials.  In many existing systems today, the software has to be updated manually or on site, the readers and controllers have to be supplied with wired power, and credentials typically constitute a fob or swipe card.  With web-based or IP access control everything from installation to software updates changes.  Much like many IP surveillance cameras, web-based access control systems are connected to a company’s internet network.  Access control that operates over a network opens the door (pun intended) to increased scalability, installation flexibility, remote system access and management, reduction in the need for traditional power outlets, and cost efficiency.  This creates a more open platform for system management and integration.

In the not so distant past access control systems would be designed with products from a single manufacturer.  While this may seem like a good idea, think about what happens if products are discontinued or the manufacturer goes out of business and no longer supports your system.  You’re left with having to start from scratch which is not only a hassle but costly as well.  With web-based access control, components don’t necessarily have to be supplied by one manufacturer.  Being able to source readers, controllers, and credentials from different manufacturers benefits the end user and security integrator by limiting the cost of repair or replacement, as well as creating a smoother transition between software updates and system upgrades.  The technology and software behind these products are becoming more universal which leads to better overall system operation and integration.

The flexibility of web-based access control systems far surpasses physical access controls used in the past.  You have the option to secure multiple entry points at a singular site or across numerous sites nationwide, even worldwide.  Unlike traditional systems, multiple sites can be controlled, updated, and managed from a singular location either on site or remotely over a secured network.  In this sense web-based security features help with system management consolidation; streamlining operation processes making the day-to-day more convenient.

One of the most desirable features of web-based access control systems is the reduction of required cabling.  Depending on the application, readers don’t necessarily have to be wired directly to the network.  This cuts down on cabling and labor costs.  It also provides flexibility in situations where cabling may not be an option, such as installations in historical buildings.  Same is true about the energy supply to readers and locks.  In the past it may have been difficult for integrators to place access control equipment because of a lack in electrical outlets or supply.  Now, with web-based access control equipment, often times power can be supplied through a direct network connection known as PoE (Power over Ethernet).  PoE connections provide power and data to a connected device through a singular cable.

According to Bill Moran, vice president of Sales for Red Cloud Security, “Web-based access control offers features and functionality that enhance an organization’s security posture. From one consolidated screen, administrators can view and manage alarms, video surveillance, facility maps, and identities including photo and personnel details.”  He also points out that in the event of a triggered alarm or someone forcing their way through an entry point, the network can be suspended while cameras at the scene can be accessed for live streaming.  This is where the idea of a comprehensive security system comes into play, where all of the components are easily accessed and essentially working together.

Web-based security features are transforming the way end-users and industry professionals perceive security in general.  In a world that continues to become more and more connected through technological advancement and the IoT (Internet of Things), it only makes sense that the infrastructure of the physical world should follow suit.  Web-based access control is just another step in the direction to a more convenient and secured future.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed professionals are always looking for and researching technologies that better serve our customers.  Our team has been providing comprehensive security system solutions to organizations throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We help you connect and protect what matters most.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Scott Lewis-Flickr-Creative Commons

Should Surveillance Systems Share A Network With Office Computers?

Network-Norlando PobreWhether you are installing a new surveillance system or changing an existing one you need to consider the type of system and the operating implications associated with it.  The desire for advanced image quality, video analytics, ease of integration, and remote access has ushered in the era of IP (Internet Protocol) surveillance systems.  IP surveillance systems have opened the door to a more integrated security system and they provide increased scalability which is important to company growth and future adaptation.  This type of surveillance system typically relies on an internet network, and as they say “therein lies the rub.”

Should your surveillance system operate on the same internet network as your office computers?  The answer is not a simple yes or no.  The short answer being it certainly is a viable option, but it could depend on the size and type of business you run.  It’s also possible to set up an IP surveillance system on its own network but it may not be cost effective or necessary.  For these reasons it is imperative to consult a licensed security system professional when altering or adding a surveillance system.

When it comes to a company’s network there seems to be some trepidation about how and what devices can and should be allowed on it.  It’s understandable, a company’s network is often a basis for its everyday functions, but where does the worry come from?  A lot of it usually has to do with a communication gap between security integrators and IT professionals or end users.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed experts are able to provide clear and understandable information about the surveillance equipment we implement and how it will affect your company’s network.  We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Our team has witnessed and been a part of the migration from mainly analog surveillance to IP.

Let’s discover the common concerns about network devices and how they can be dissolved, but first we’ll review some quick terminology when talking about networks.  LAN, MAN, and WAN are three basic types of networks you’ll likely hear about from integrators and IT professionals.  Local area networks (LANs) are typically found at most small to medium sized businesses as they cover a smaller more specific area.  In all likelihood your company operates on a LAN network.  Metropolitan area networks (MANs) cover a larger area and are usually present in cities and across large campuses.  Wide Area Networks (WANs) provide the most coverage, anything from expansive distances to the whole world.  According to Fredrik Nilsson, general manager for Axis Communications in North America, WANs are often comprised of multiple smaller networks including LANs and MANs.

All networks are comprised of some sort of cabling and equipment such as switches, servers, and hubs.  The most popular type of network configuration used with LANs is called star.  A star configuration allows all network devices to be connected to a central point where if one device crashes the rest will remain in operation.  However, redundancies are typically incorporated to account for the possibility of a central station crash.

Now that terminology is out of the way, what are some of the major concerns one might have when adding surveillance equipment to a company network?  One of the most common is bandwidth consumption.  This often stems from companies that have had to deal with employees streaming or downloading videos via company networks which eats into the available bandwidth.  According to James Marcella, director of technical services for Axis Communications, IP surveillance equipment is wrongly accused when it comes to bandwidth consumption.  He says most IP cameras today can be customized to fit a company’s network and storage guidelines.  To help limit their consumption surveillance can be setup on a Virtual LANs (VLANs) which Marcella says, “prevents video traffic from grabbing the lion’s share of bandwidth.”

Then there’s the ever-present question, “what about hacking?”  In our world where virtually everything is connected through the IoT (Internet of Things), it’s hard not to worry about who can access private information and how that information is being protected.  Having surveillance equipment on the same network as your company computers may seem scary, but in reality, more oft than not, there are procedures in place to prevent hacker access.

When it comes to adding network devices and keeping the network safe authentication protocol and data encryption are key.  According to Marcella authentication protocol protects the network at the physical port level.  If someone were to unplug a network camera and try to plug in their own device, all “traffic” to that port’s switch would automatically be shut down as the foreign device wouldn’t have the proper authorization.  Data encryption is essentially creating a password to your network whether it’s wired or wireless.  This prevents someone from getting into your network or freeloading on your company’s internet.  Encryptions can be highly effective as long as they are not something obvious or easily guessed.

Lastly, network storage is a top concern.  This is often directly linked to bandwidth consumption concerns.  Due to high image quality of IP camera recordings it’s not uncommon for businesses to store video footage for longer periods of time.  Fortunately, with IP surveillance systems you don’t necessarily have to store recordings directly on the network.  For smaller installations there is the option to utilize in-camera storage through internal SD cards (Secure Digital Cards).  Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices and cloud-based systems are other viable options.  In order to determine which method is best for your company an evaluation of camera quantity and storage needs should be conducted.

Whether you are adding a new surveillance system or updating an existing one it’s imperative to consider the impact it will have on your company’s network, if any at all.  Always consult a licensed security system professional as they can help guide you or your IT department through the process from initial assessment to final installation.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We can help break down the communication barrier that sometimes creates apprehension when installing network devices.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Norlando Pobre-Flickr-Creative Commons