Protecting Higher Ed IT Surveillance Systems
Higher education institutions spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on physical security equipment, according to a 2020 study conducted by Omdia on behalf of the Security Industry Association.
The reality of open, accessible college campuses makes physical security a more complicated task in higher education than it is for their counterparts in K–12 school districts, but one of the most common and effective ways to boost security on campus is through video surveillance.
IP Cameras Have Benefits and Drawbacks
Before the introduction of IP video surveillance cameras on campus, physical and digital security were typically separate. Now, however, technology is intertwined with every aspect of campus security.
As universities upgrade their video security systems, some are moving away from closed-circuit TV cameras to more robust IP security systems. These network cameras have far more capabilities than traditional CCTV cameras, using network devices to integrate access control, communications, mass notifications, door locks and security cameras.
Unfortunately, along with the benefits of accessibility and ease of use, these highly sophisticated network video systems come with the constant threat of cyberattacks.
IP cameras are not dissimilar from other network devices exposed to attack scenarios. As higher ed institutions transition to IP security systems, they face the same data breach risks. The systems are highly vulnerable and easy to hack, and they present a considerable surface area cybercriminals can use to access a university’s network.
In addition to common threats — malware, ransomware, distributed denial of service, man-in-the-middle and brute-force attacks — video cameras are susceptible to third-party eavesdropping.
Best Practices for Securing IP Cameras
The potential for third-party eavesdropping via camera systems is an example of why university CTOs and data security officers must address the vulnerabilities of their IP security cameras. The goal is to prevent unauthorized access to the system that could compromise other devices in the network.
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