Cloud computing is now a big part of surveillance security, as the industry transitions from traditional, analogue-based systems to digital.
The cloud has a wealth of benefits to security installers, especially when combined with IP CCTV surveillance systems. These create high quality digitised video data streams, transmit them directly to the cloud via network cabling or WI-FI, and trigger automatic alarms and updates if an access violation is detected.
You can monitor and maintain such systems remotely without travelling to the site, specifically:
- Preview recorded alarms and associated CCTV images
- Download recorded footage from the cloud instead of retrieving footage at the site
- Set up devices in the system (e.g. change camera video streams or audio settings where applicable)
- View live camera images remotely using a browser or mobile app
- Receive instant notifications of incidents and faults directly from the site
- Roll out firmware updates to all connected devices
- Remotely install new applications on network cameras, such as those relating to people counting
This frees up time that could be spent profitably on other customers and drastically reduces costs associated with travelling to sites.
In fact, when utilising the cloud with IP systems, the only time you would need to visit a site after the initial install would be to physically clean a camera (e.g. if dirt or cobwebs obscure its view) or to repair or replace a faulty unit.
End users, your customers, benefit from this too. They receive a more efficient service because you do not have to wait until you can schedule a site visit to perform maintenance.
You can also give customers access to live CCTV footage and site notifications, keeping them in the loop and ensuring a high degree of transparency.
Fears of adopting cloud
The cloud is being widely adopted by businesses, with the latest research from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) revealing that the overall UK adoption rate stands at 84 per cent, with almost four in five (78 per cent) of cloud users having formally adopted two or more services.
However, security is still a big concern, especially among those reluctant to embrace the technology. As a security installer, you may well be aware that winning these people over can be challenging. They remember infamous cloud breaches such as:
- Target: Hackers compromised up to 70 million Target customers’ credit card details in 2013, exposing many holes in the company’s security strategy.
- Home Depot: Similarly, this online retailer suffered from a malware attack, which compromised 56 million credit or debit cards and 53 million email addresses.
- iCloud: When hackers publicised private photographs of celebrities stolen from iCloud accounts, this raised fears of data security in the cloud.
Media coverage of all three incidents was misleading. They were not the result of security flaws relating to the cloud.
Hackers accessed the Target and Home Depot networks by stealing the credentials of a third party vendor, rather than breaching cloud security. In the case of iCloud, Apple denies the breach was a failing relating to any of its systems, instead blaming targeted attacks on celebrities’ individual accounts.
Data breaches closer to home, although not related to cloud computing, don’t help either. One recent example is the TalkTalk attack last year, where data relating to approximately 157,000 of its customers was stolen. Fraudsters are still targeting people even today, with TalkTalk’s profits halving in 2016 as a result.
Companies know these stories only too well and do not want to risk financial ruin, but using cloud-based security is actually better than onsite systems.
How to convince your customers that the cloud is right for them
Some people want to retain control of their data because this feels more secure but this is not the safest option, especially for small to medium sized businesses.
Large cloud providers such as Microsoft and Google invest huge amounts of money and resources to keep data secure. They keep their servers in locked rooms within data centres, which have high fences, alarms, 24-hour video surveillance and strict access control. They also hire the best IT personnel in the world.
Small businesses holding data in-house simply cannot hope to achieve this level of security.
A useful analogy – is it safer to keep your life savings under your bed or in a bank? If you do the former you will know where it is at all times, but a bank has cameras, armed guards and a vault so your cash is obviously safer there.
It is the same principle with the cloud. A company’s data is far safer in data centres belonging to reputable cloud providers than in its own office. This is the key message to communicate with your customers.