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How Vulnerable Is Your Monitoring System?

The recent Panorama episode concerning vulnerabilities in popular CCTV cameras has caused quite a stir in the security sector. ‘Hackers’ were able to take advantage of cameras vulnerabilities in the units and software to access video and audio feeds. These vulnerabilities were touted as intentional backdoors built into the products, but what wasn’t made entirely clear, was the fact that these vulnerabilities were originally discovered and patched as soon as they were discovered in 2017 and 2022. The units were installed on an unsecured network, and their software was loaded on a computer with no active firewall.

Whilst the tenability of the tests conducted was questionable, it still raised questions regarding the baseline security of surveillance equipment, and what preventative measures we can take to safeguard our data.

What makes OCULi HD less vulnerable to attack?

OCULi HD is designed to run on very lower power, and as such, the 4G modem usually remains off whenever the unit is not actively trying to connect to the cloud server. When OCULi HD is triggered by an event, the modem powers up and transmits information to the server. The modem only remains online for 3 minutes before shutting down and turning off again. This brief window of activity makes it difficult for hackers to intercept transmissions using Man-In-The-Middle (MitM) attacks, as a typical MitM attack takes between 10 and 15 minutes to accomplish.

Unless the OCULi IoT hub has been enabled, OCULi HD cannot be armed or disarmed remotely and adheres to a strict arming schedule. It can only be activated when the unit registers an event and is armed, as there is no way to manually activate an OCULi HD unit. OCULi HD can only receive data when it has been activated by either an event registered by the unit, or by a scheduled Heartbeat from the server. Whilst OCULi HD is fitted with an on-board microphone, it is not connected into the main processor, and can only send or receive voice data when the unit is telephoned whilst the modem is on and expecting a voice call.

When the OCULi IoT hub has been enabled, OCULi HD will only respond to specific commands sent through the hub. OCULi HD makes and maintains the connection to the Hub and cannot receive incoming data connections, both by design and that most cellular services operate this way. OCULi HD does not use a complex operating system like Linux; it can only implement tasks that have been explicitly programmed, so there are no vulnerabilities that are common to systems running widely used operating systems.

Any time OCULi HD activates, it sends an event notification directly to the server, including any time the unit powers up. This means that unauthorised activations are immediately alerted to the portal, along with a series of images captured at the time of the event. Data transmitted to and from OCULi HD is SSL/TLS encrypted then additionally encrypted by the 4G LTE network, which prevents it from being easily intercepted or deciphered by unauthorised parties.

The OCULi HD portal is hosted on a secure cloud server and runs in your internet browser, meaning that no additional software needs to be installed that could potentially be compromised. The cloud server automatically encrypts data and has built-in Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack protection, which prevents crashes and data breaches.

What's the takeaway?

OCULi HD is not CCTV and is not designed to provide continuous coverage of sites. It provides visual verification of events which can then be actioned by site personnel. The OCULi system can be self-monitored or integrated with a Central Monitoring Station (CMS). Both options allow the system to be continuously monitored and will immediately alert to rogue activations or physical tampers.

In conclusion, it is important to implement good cyber security practices such as adequately securing your network, keeping passwords hidden, and turning on your firewall. Whilst a determined hacker, given enough time and the right conditions, may be able to bypass common safeguards, adding multiple hurdles to prevent access and ways of alerting to a threat can buy time for security operations to locate and stop the attack.

For more information, contact Laura Grainger on 0208 368 7887 or email

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