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Home Security Cameras

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics, and Training' started by Craig_VA, Jan 5, 2021.

  1. Craig_VA
    • Contributing Member

    Craig_VA Contributing Member

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    Several recent threads on home invasions and answering the door have included discussions of doorbell cameras and home security cameras. The idea of this thread is to provide a place to discuss questions, experiences, recommendations, and link to usable reviews of different brands and models. Below I will explain why I bought the brand I did last year.

    While my professional field is cyber security, I am not expert on the current state of the market on security, hackability, and privacy of camera systems. We will need to find solid reviews for those topics. That said, in general my security community has some basic concerns about security and privacy on all internet-connected camera systems. Those concerns deal with basic security, access control (e.g. password management), and in particular privacy, given the questionable practices of both Amazon and Google on tracking data about their customers. If you are looking at products from either of those companies (there are several brands) be sure to learn about their privacy and file storage options. Also, check if they have external monitor agreements; for instance Ring offers a monitor service for installed Ring cameras to local law enforcement. Find out if you can opt out of that contract, and how to do so, should that concern you.

    My biggest advice - do not choose based on price alone, or on the amount of advertising you see. Also, most folks who tell you , "I got Brand A; you should, too," have not done the comparison and evaluation I am recommending. Understand what your getting, in terms of both usability and features.


    Side note: full time CCTV business security systems cost at least ten times more than home systems. They need a totally separate evaluation discussion.

    What I bought: After reviewing the market and issues such as shaky privacy with Google products, I bought a 2 camera system from Arlo, an established but lesser advertised company. They are more expensive than Nest, Ring, etc., but offer a couple of features I like. Primary reason is that the Arlo system can include a home hub for management, to which you can add a hard drive or thumb drive for local storage of all recordings. Arlo, like Ring, Next, and others, does offer a subscription-based cloud storage service. However, with a hard drive on my hub, I can cancel that service and still have all my videos available. My neighbor is not buying the cloud storage, using only his hub. with storage I am paying the monthly fee to get artificial intelligence features like recognition of people, vehicles, animals, and packages. My local hub also captures more video segments than the cloud, a nice feature for more complete record of an incident.

    I have not researched other products such as SimpliSafe and the new no-contract ADT camera service. Others might have useful information on those options.
     
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  2. jak67429

    jak67429 Member

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    Any of the internet based systems do have the possibility of boing vulnerable. The other thing on the cloud based cameras / security systems is if the internet goes down the cameras/alarms are useless. I personally like a system with a local nvr that can be accessed over a network. That way if the internet is down for any reason your system can still function.
     
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  3. Timeless

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    I was going to mention Arlo.

    We have their 4 camera and hub setup and it works well. Cameras even have lights and sirens built in. We pay the cloud storage just because it is cheap insurance.

    Only downside I can see is having to remember to charge the batteries...but they seem to last 6 months according to reviews I've read.

    At home I have three outdoor lights that are also cameras and use an app with cloud storage ( https://getkuna.com/pages/smart-security-light ).
     
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  4. dh1633pm
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    dh1633pm Contributing Member

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    My biggest problem with them is as jak67429 mentioned already vulnerabilities. The average network user has no clue how to secure a network. Let alone have something on their home network that is able to see and hear. With the rick of being hacked or have built in vulnerabilities based on where the device was made. Does the average user even know how to ensure the device doesn't spy on them? It scares me to death. I have the skill set to make those determinations and I am still scared. Most are like previously mentioned cloud based. What's a cloud? Just another computer. Local is certainly better.
     
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  5. Craig_VA
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    Craig_VA Contributing Member

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    Buy at least one more battery than you have cameras. That way when time to recharge, you carry the charged spare up the ladder, swap batteries, and put the low battery in the charger for next time. Only one trip per swap on the ladder, and no out of service cameras, ever. You may need to stagger the swap times on cameras, not changing all at the same time.
    Arlo also has an option to feed a power cable to the camera, so no battery changing is needed. You have to buy the cable from Arlo, and figure out how to get the wire to the camera position. Neighbor has that for his units.

    Also, specifically for Arlo, buy only their branded battery; do not buy any of the "compatible with" brands. I tried one of those off-brand from Amazon to save $20 and it caused my local wifi between my Arlo app on the phone and hub not to work. Reviews on Amazon for a different off-brand reported the same problem.

    Craig
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
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  6. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    Arlo is emerging as what the smart people use, instead of the "shop by price" people buy.

    Finding good locations for cameras can be tricky, especially for houses with little or no roof overhang. Blind spots can be an issue, too.

    I'm becoming a fan of integrating solar-charged motion-detecting lamps in with the cameras. Adding light helps improve the video, it's useful for visitors, and helps obscure the cameras to those of ill intent.

    Like anything else, such systems need some attention. You need to actually review footage, to call up past events--if only to have the habits practiced. Knowing that the cameras are on is relatively important.
     
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  7. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    My oldest son works in the industry. He designs IP camera systems for the biggest security and alarm company in the area. He doesn't actually design the hardware, he designs the systems for a specific application. He does mostly large commercial and government facilities, hospitals, schools, factories, office buildings, police stations, correctional facilities etc. None of it is secure. I have watched hm sit at my dining room table and log into a system on his laptop when it's his weekend on call. Yes they use proprietary software, yes it's password protected, but no system that's connected to the internet is secure. Now the customers like this arrangement because it allows them to access their video remotely and it saves them travel costs on service calls because the technicians can work on the system remotely, but you have to assume that if you can access your system remotely, anyone who is interested can access it.
     
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  8. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    I would wager cost is the biggest reason why more homes are not protected by security cameras to monitor the outside closely. A good system will cost you. The best feature of a good system is motion tracking of some type. A camera that some how lets you know when something is moving that should not be. Otherwise, you will spend your life watching a camera feed. The cheapest system I have found is Wyze. $20 per camera connected to a phone App is probably the most budget friendly you can get but keep the features of a decent system.

    https://wyze.com/wyze-cam-v3.html
     
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  9. Craig_VA
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    Craig_VA Contributing Member

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    I should mention another option. If you do not need real time reporting but only after the fact recordings, look at game cameras and trail cameras from outdoor and hunting gear sellers. They all have motion detection, infrared for night operations, and long battery life. Basic units are stand alone but you can get them with cell network connection.
     
  10. P89DCSS

    P89DCSS Member

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    I bought a Heimvision 8 camera system and a Seagate 2TB drive (good for over 30 days data of storage) . The system is wireless meaning the camera must be plugged into 120vac outlet and no wired data connection to the base station (wireless). The included camera viewing app works well on iPhone and Android without monthly fees. I need 7 cameras to cover my lot's perimeter and use the last camera to cover my garage workshop.

    Works very well at a very reasonable cost (no months fees). Has excellent 1080 resolution and low light viewing with infrared lighting built in. I haven't enabled the motion detect because there lots of motion around my lot. The app sends alerts or email.

    Next addition is a doorbell camera.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2021
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  11. TrickyDick

    TrickyDick Member

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    I've been looking into getting cameras and have settled on Lorex. The ones I want to buy are PoE (power over ethernet) which means it powers and sends data on the same cable, it's 4k resolution, and has H265 storage compression. Also, the cameras themselves are IP66 or IP67 I believe, cast metal housings. I already have a ring doorbell and I'm really not all that impressed with it. I would rather have a hardwired local drive system
     
  12. P89DCSS

    P89DCSS Member

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    Not a good assumption. A strong password works well. If your son services systems that "anyone who is interested can access it" he wouldn't be doing a very good job for his customers. Can "anyone who is interested" access your THR account? Not if you use a reasonably strong password.
     
  13. DukeConnor

    DukeConnor Member

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    I'm not too concerned about someone hacking and viewing my outdoor cameras. all anyone will see is what they can see driving past the house. I have a couple indoor cameras that I shut off when I'm home.
    I have the ring stuff. I started with the ring doorbell cam and just kept adding onto it. the ring base station has a cellular connection and back up that will alert you even if the internet is down.
     
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  14. dh1633pm
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    dh1633pm Contributing Member

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    Its not the Spying that is the problem. Who has time to site and watch a driveway or yard view. Some devices can be easily compromised as a method to enter your network. From there they can attack from within. That is my biggest worry. In an enterprise setting, security cameras and such get their own separate network. This is the same method I will approach from home. Not saying to skip cameras, I certainly would love some. Just do proper vetting before you pull the trigger (bad pun). Don't negate the network security aspect. Look at the built in problems with TCL TV's and Lenovo Computers.

    I put two outside Wireless Access Points at the house. I live next door to two large properties. On the other side is a housing development. Our driveway is a private road. I travel for work. I certainly have need for a couple cameras. Would like one at every door. Hence the outside access points to provide yard coverage for anything wireless. My home network is configured like a work network. Still on the fence with the cameras.

    https://www.tomsguide.com/news/hackable-security-cameras
     
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  15. Timeless

    Timeless Member

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    I can see that as being a good idea. For us it is not a big deal as during the working hours we can just take one down and charge it during the day and put it back before we leave.
     
  16. P89DCSS

    P89DCSS Member

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    The systems like Heimvision wireless camera surveillance systems have a separate set top box, the cameras can only be added with a direct ethernet connection. The stb is connected to my household router only with a direct ethernet connection. There is no wireless connection between stb and router, not available. Its not as if security isn't well understood these days.
     
  17. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    My eight-camera security system is all wire-connected to a 12 volt solar powered electrical system, as is the dedicated laptop. The back-up motion sensor array is independent of the camera system and runs off of a smaller solar array. My system is primarily designed for in-home monitoring, as there is almost always someone in the house, but remote monitoring can be activated when needed.
    I have also added some unobtrusive external tell-tale systems to alert me if my systems have been tampered with so that I can be prepared when I'm approaching the house.
    I can not give any particular name brands, as this is a system with quite a mix of components.
     
  18. Drail

    Drail Member

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    I have never understood why some people feel safer because they have security cameras. It will not stop the bad guys.
     
  19. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    Maybe not, but with motion detection and alerts to my phone I can see them coming and then have video evidence later if needed.
     
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  20. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Nor are they intended for that purpose.
     
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  21. Craig_VA
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    Craig_VA Contributing Member

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    We can also speak with them outside through the live feed with mic and speaker in the camera.
     
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  22. SharpDog

    SharpDog Member

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    I've been running security cameras for 10 years now. The most critical questions:

    1. Do you need to save the recordings ? For how long ? 'Smart' cameras help a lot with this, Google, Amazon and Samsung offer this.

    2. Do you need to host the cameras on your network or are you comfortable with Amazon or Google listening (seeing) in ?

    3. How many cameras do you need for coverage ? Indoors ? Outdoors ? Waterproof ?

    4. Battery, USB or AC ? This was another reason I placed mine indoors looking out windows, I didn't need to rewire anything.

    For me I can get adequate coverage with 4 indoor cameras pointed out of the windows (I got mine before waterproof cameras were a thing) and I have 3 indoor cameras. When I was concerned about recordings, Google hosted them over the internet, nowadays I don't use the recordings and use the cameras for observation only. This is a lot less expensive.
     
  23. Hangingrock

    Hangingrock Member

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    We do not have surveillance cameras but we do have outside lighting that remains on during the hours of darkness that we had the utility power put in along with the poles the lights are mounted on.
     
  24. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    That's not true now and it's probably never been true. Have you missed all of the news about all of the big data breaches? If it's connected to the internet it's not secure....PERIOD!

    This is true. Someone could breach the system and turn it off.
     
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  25. whughett

    whughett Member

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    I put in SimpliSafe five years ago. Intrusion, heat and water alarms. Monitored 24/7 with police response. I keep trying to justify adding cameras but other than seeing who’s at the front door don’t see a purpose for all around use. I’m not going to sit in front of a monitor or bring them up on my phone, tablet or computer to see who’s been around and anything else would be after the event. JMO. But I’m open for reasons to buy.
     
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