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TrendNet: A Cautionary Tale?

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hundreds of TrendNet customers found out the hard way that products they purchased, billed as home security cameras, weren’t all that secure. In January 2012, a hacker was able to breach TrendNet’s website, circumvent security credentials and access some 700 live-camera feeds monitoring inside customers' homes. Many of the videos were then disseminated on the Internet, a curious fact by itself in light of the complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission, which said security flaws in the cameras allowed for the “unauthorized surveillance of infants sleeping in their cribs, young children playing, and adults engaging in typical daily activities.” The online community continues to recover from the trauma of being exposed to such tedium.

But for obvious reasons, customers were unnerved. The FTC wasn't happy either. The oversight committee’s complaint alleging that TrendNet misrepresented its software as secure and failed to adequately protect its customers resulted in a settlement, which was reached last week, according to multiple reports.

The story reached mainstream news. Unsurprisingly, it’s on the alarm monitoring industry’s radar as well, as I discovered in a short conversation with Stephen Doyle, executive vice president and CEO of CSAA. Doyle said he just returned from an Alarm Industry Communications Committee meeting in which 65 industry members were briefed by an industry lawyer on the legal ins and outs of the TrendNet snafu.

In terms of pertinence to the industry, the case seems fringy in some respects, relevant in others. It’s true, after all, that TrendNet cameras are unattached to alarms, and designed specifically for remote monitoring of homes via smartphones and other mobile devices. But it's relevant to the industry insofar as it deals with a few topics in the forefront of people's minds.

One of those topics is the viability and security of do-it-yourself monitoring systems. Another is cloud security, a topic that stands to grow in significance with the spread of IP panels, and as more companies migrate information and services to the cloud. Whether a company’s data becomes more or less secure when it’s transferred to the cloud is a hot-button industry debate with little consensus. Cloud adoption is likely to expand, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be skeptics. Either way, the TrendNet case perhaps intensifies the debate.

At TechSec 2014, Jeremy Brecher, VP of technology, electronic security at Diebold, will tackle some issues in this vein as part of the educational program, while also exploring ways security companies can thrive in an increasingly cloud-based environment.

Physical security market to reach $85 billion by 2018

New applications for video surveillance, biometrics and access control expected to drive growth in North America
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09/10/2013

PUNE, India—Demand among government agencies, large enterprises and tech establishments is expected to push the global physical security market, currently worth about $55 billion, to a value of $85 billion by 2018, according to a new report by the research company MarketsandMarkets.

TOTUS, SecureWatch24 announce partnership

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09/04/2013

AUSTIN, Texas—TOTUS Solutions, Inc. and SecureWatch24 have teamed up to offer a channel partnership combining lighting-based security systems and video surveillance. The companies announced the deal Sept. 3.

Observations on a surveillance camera discussion forum

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Friday, August 9, 2013

A topic surfaced today on the Security Industry Group’s LinkedIn forum that piqued my interest at first on a particular level, but then on a broader, more general one.

The topic was initiated by a link to an instructional sequence relating how some ne’er-do-well can erect homemade spray paint contraptions to blot out hard-to-reach surveillance cameras, rendering them ineffective. The device appears laughably crude, but that’s not to say it couldn’t achieve its ends. Assembling it requires a hodgepodge of junk, including but not limited to a tree pruner, a bicycle brake bar and a wine bottle opener.

The link was clearly offered as a launching pad for discussion about a potential industry-related problem. It proved instead to be the source of some acrimony. The respondent who posted the link was charged by critics with being irresponsible for disseminating the information and, by extension, aiding the hooligans who might be inclined to undertake in the destruction of surveillance property.

While I might not agree with the criticism, I can see the rationale. The harm in taking part in the transfer of this kind information, so the reasoning goes, ultimately outweighs the good that might result from an open discussion about it. But here’s the thing about the Internet: The information’s already out there. It’s already totally accessible to whomever cares to find it. Another respondent, defending the original poster, correctly pointed this out.

The web is an ambiguous medium. It has the capacity to facilitate the transfer of information both good and bad. But there’s also some danger in merely dismissing a problem on the grounds that doing the opposite—confronting it head-on—could somehow help siphon the information to the wrong people. Speaking only in whispers about a problem could prove even more counterproductive.

At its core the web is a medium that wants to be open, not closed. It wants to include, share, inform, engage, improve, discuss, inquire. From a professional standpoint, industry-based forums like the many on LinkedIn can be a valuable stage for these kinds of discussions. If someone in the industry identifies a problem or vulnerability, what simpler or faster way to get a broad industry perspective on that topic than by crowdsourcing other professionals online? 

Fired AlarmForce CEO fighting his ouster

Joel Matlin, who founded the company, says he has a legal strategy to remove board members who forced him out
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08/07/2013

TORONTO—The recently ousted CEO of AlarmForce Industries, one of Canada’s largest security companies, said he’s planning a legal strategy designed to replace the board members who fired him.

Axis stays atop IHS video surveillance rankings, claims top spot for video encoders

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06/21/2013

CHELMSFORD, Mass.—Axis Communications, a provider of network video surveillance solutions, retained the top spot in IHS Research’s annual rankings of the top video surveillance companies, according to a news release.

BRS Labs announces summer seminar series

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06/19/2013

HOUSTON—Behavioral Recognition Systems Labs, a developer of security solutions software and artificial intelligence, has announced its 2013 IP Video Surveillance Academy summer seminar series.

Genetec launches cloud-based video surveillance powered by Windows

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06/17/2013

MONTREAL—Genetec, a provider of IP security solutions, has announced the availability of Stratocast, a video surveillance system powered by Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud-computing platform.

IMS finds end users boosting budgets for physical security gear

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06/12/2013

WELLINGBOROUGH, England—Budgets for physical security equipment continue to defy the sluggish economic recovery, with 45 percent of end users reporting that their security funding increased during 2012, according to a survey conducted by IMS Research, now part of IHS Inc.

Bosch launches new sales team

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06/12/2013

FAIRPORT, N.Y.—Bosch Security Systems has created a new inside sales team to better service its customers with a more “focused approach,” according to a company statement.

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