The Cost of Cybercrime

The Cost of Cybercrime

Consider these best practices to ensure a secure network

Cybercrime is a large and dangerous business and it impacts individuals, businesses and governments worldwide. According to Forbes, cybercrime costs are projected to reach $2 trillion by 2019. Hackers are relentless in their attacks on businesses, governments and consumers, and cyber-attacks are continuing at an alarming rate across all industries.

Cybersecurity pertains to every device that is connected to the internet, including IP networked surveillance cameras. Aside from their many advantages over analog systems, such as better resolution, clearer images, cost savings, easy installation and advanced analytics, they can also be the gateway for hackers into your organization’s network. Systems that provide total access for use by outside agencies and/or municipal surveillance increase cybersecurity vulnerability, since they require network devices to be placed on public networks outside the protection of local network firewalls. Wireless technology also poses cybersecurity risks, as wireless signals can be compromised without penetrating a physical network — but wirelessly. Add in the Internet of Things, which allows many ancillary devices to easily be integrated into physical security networks, and the challenge increases further.

With cyber threats at an all-time high and with so much at stake, all enterprise stakeholders need to recognize that cybersecurity is a shared global problem. Security professionals need to implement appropriate measures to ensure their IP cameras are secure and their networks are protected.

Lax Procedures

In video surveillance and security operations, cyber intrusions are often the result of lax operational procedures, such as not resetting default passwords when new equipment is installed or failure to implement firmware patches when they are issued. This negligence can result in vulnerabilities that allow hackers easy network access and/or the ability to deploy automated scripts to uncover old firmware that uses default passwords. Once the hackers locate camera firmware, they can easily access these devices in the host’s network and affect their operation – for example, by dimming a camera’s brightness or inserting a malicious code that takes the cameras offline until a ransom is paid. In more serious cases, they can use their access into the security network as a stepping-stone to hack other networks.

Human error contributes to the problem as well. According to NTT Security’s recently released 2017 Global Threat Intelligence Center Quarterly Threat Intelligence Report, insider threats pose one of the biggest cybersecurity risks for organizations, with 75 percent due to accidental or negligent activity. Fortunately, most of these threats can easily be avoided.

Many camera manufacturers have comprehensive, behindthe- scenes initiatives to help improve IP camera cybersecurity, which incorporate multiple components including education on how cameras should be installed and how networks should be secured. To start, end users and installers should secure IP cameras and other network access points with strong passwords that are changed regularly. A strong password is at least eight characters long and is made up of a combination of special characters, numbers and upper and lower-case letters. There are reputable programs and web services that will assist in creating a password that is difficult to hack. Changing passwords on a regular basis is also extremely important.

It is also vital to keep all of your cameras and IP devices’ firmware up to date. Typically, it’s firmware vulnerabilities or coding errors that allow hackers access to devices, and once published for correction purposes, become publicly available to hackers. This makes installed devices that have not had their firmware upgraded easy prey for hackers. Many companies send updated versions of firmware regularly, and releases often include important security updates. Hackers have been known to revert equipment back to earlier firmware releases in order to expose known vulnerabilities, and any such change should raise an alarm.

Another necessity is to disable the UPNP, P2P and SNMP functions and enable HTTPS/SSL on a security camera’s IP filter. UPNP will automatically try to forward ports in a router or modem. Normally, this would be a good thing, but if a system automatically forwards the ports and credentials are left at the default, you may end up with unwanted visitors.

Remote Access

P2P is used to remotely access a system via a serial number. The possibility of someone hacking into a system using P2P is highly unlikely because the system’s user name, password and serial number are also required. Yet, P2P should be disabled, along with SNMP if it’s not being used. If it is being used, it should be used temporarily, for tracing and testing purposes only.

Also, it’s critical for end users and installers to set up an SSL certificate to enable HTTPS within the network. This will encrypt all communication between devices and recorders to add another layer of security.

When installing IP cameras, they ideally should be connected to the ports on the back of an NVR to keep them isolated and to prohibit direct access to the surveillance camera through a network. Additional security actions to take with IP cameras include:

  • Enabling the IP filter to prevent everyone, except those with specified IP addresses, from accessing the system
  • Regularly checking a camera’s system log that will show which IP addresses were used to login to the system and what was accessed
  • Physically locking down the camera to prevent any unauthorized physical access to the system
  • Limiting features of guest accounts
  • Isolating the NVR and IP camera network to prevent gainingaccess to the same network the security system needs in order to function properly

These important actions, along with installing security cameras on a dedicated security network that is not connected to the public internet, can go a long way in lessening susceptibility to cyber attacks.

Additional Initiatives

Many manufacturers are implementing additional initiatives to help end users secure their networks. For example, one Dahua initiative focuses on authentication for administrative access to security system equipment. As part of this initiative, default accounts are no longer included in new devices. Instead, when installing the device, the device requires initialization with a strong password. Management software communicates with the devices not by sending the strong password itself, but by sending a coded digest message instead. If anyone were to intercept the digest message, they would not be able to decode the password. This comprehensive approach to endpoint security heightens the security level of the entire system.

In addition, the session security function built into DahuaIP surveillance equipment includes an adjustable “inactivity time out” to protect against unauthorized connections. New built-in security features go much further, tracking session credentials for subsequent identity authentication. If a particular host IP address repeatedly generates security issues, the equipment will automatically lock out that address and refuse further sessions.

Even more, many security camera manufacturers are working in partnership with independent experts such as DBAPP Security and Synopsys Technology to ensure the highest security and quality for their products.

The results of those efforts are being seen in better management of identities, increased session and data security, smooth software update processes, prevention of brute force and password cracking attempts, and the overall improvement in IP surveillance device and network security.

Organizations with IP networked surveillance systems must have a comprehensive and holistic cybersecurity program in place to protect the integrity of their physical security systems and the data on the enterprise. By taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity and working more closely with equipment manufacturers and suppliers, security professionals can better protect their organizations while supporting global efforts to curtail future cybersecurity threats and activities.

This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Security Today.

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