As discussed in our last blog, leveraging a Video Management System (VMS) that is both cloud-based and secure can come with a few challenges. Some organizations might even be hesitant to use a cloud VMS, solely because of some of the additional security concerns. The good news is that cloud VMS can be safely integrated into your security strategy, and can also be a huge asset to your organization when implemented properly.
A cloud-based VMS can actually be quite helpful to your business or school district. For one thing, the feed can be easily shared with emergency services in the area so that authorities can have easy access, both during and after an emergency situation. Additionally, they often require fewer network resources and can make the footage accessible across campuses and physical locations. This means your staff can stretch labor resources without compromising security.
Start with the Right Questions
One of the most important steps in choosing the right cloud VMS is knowing which questions to ask your VMS provider/manufacturer. If the manufacturer is new to cloud-based architectures, it may be a red flag that they don’t have a full grasp of the necessary security considerations. A good way to identify the quality of their solution is to ascertain where that cloud infrastructure is hosted (i.e. AWS, Microsoft Azure, or somewhere overseas). If the provider doesn’t know or can’t provide the information, you’re going to want to find a different solution. AWS or Azure-based resources are great indicators that your provider is knowledgeable and adequate. Also, look for an integrator who will give you honest feedback about what you’re currently using or considering buying into, instead of just agreeing with you to close a deal. Remember: they are the experts in this situation, and they should be giving you an honest evaluation.
If you are using traditional IP cameras with cloud-based management, you’ll need a secondary security strategy once they’re installed. The most important thing is to ensure that IP discovery tools are disabled. You should also turn off any other additional features that you don’t need—these may be causing additional security risks. Since every camera manufacturer will have its own features available, the best advice we can give is to read up on the options and to not assume that everything is enabled out of the box. This is also a good time to review your network security policy. The best step you can take to protect your organization is to apply the same level of thoughtfulness to the network as you would to the placement and security of your cameras. If your network isn’t secure, there’s no way your IP cameras can be secure. We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: the best way to ensure that your cloud VMS is secure is to select a provider that specializes in the cloud and adds VMS as a function of that, not the other way around. Keep in mind that when you’re connecting to “the cloud,” it really means that you’re completely reliant on someone else. There are inherent risks with any cloud technology, but there are also plenty of steps you can take to protect your network. Be especially vigilant.
One of the unique considerations of a VMS is that there are several interdepartmental requirements when it comes to maintenance. Facilities will often take care of issues with the actual cameras, while IT monitors the video feeds and the systems required to support the network operations. This is likely a new function of your (already overworked) IT department, so it’s a great opportunity to ask your integrator if they have the ability to augment the additional responsibilities this technology places on your team. From physical inspections to network monitoring, and the maintenance of the actual VMS, this is not something you or your integrator can simply set and forget. You will need a sustainability and maintenance plan, and finding an integrator who will work with you after the installation is ideal for implementing a VMS that actually contributes to the safety of your organization. And that’s the purpose of the entire project.