PC-based Cameras: The Other Intrusion Detection System

Do you have an intrusion detection system? If so, I bet you have a software solution that monitors network traffic. But do you monitor your physical premises? Company insiders perpetrate about half of all network intrusions, and certainly people who physically tamper with equipment perpetrate some portion of those insider jobs. Catching those people after the fact isn't always easy.

If your company has video monitoring equipment, perhaps that equipment will record any unauthorized activity. Many companies can't afford a professional solution for physical premise monitoring, but if you think about it, a low-cost effective alternative is available: PC-based cameras.

PC-based cameras are hugely popular today, and you can obtain a decent color camera for less than $200. Although such devices are used mostly for video conferencing, they can be used to visually monitor just about anything. For example, many day care centers and private schools have adopted PC-based cameras so parents can check on classroom activities over the Internet whenever they feel the need. You can use the same cameras to monitor activity at your business just as easily.

With a PC-based camera and some simple motion-detection software (easily obtained on the Internet if not already included with your camera purchase), you can cheaply establish a constant visual monitor of any given area—perhaps your network operations center or server room. The motion-detecting software works by comparing pixels in a given image against the pixels in a former image. If the pixels don't match exactly between both images, something has moved and the software can take some action, such as paging a security guard or emailing network administrators.

I read an interesting news story this week in the Sidney Morning Herald about two young men who used a PC-based camera to monitor their home. Apparently the young men's home had been burglarized in the past, so they decided to try to catch the burglars on video. They set up a PC camera and some software that would email them if an intruder entered the home while they were away. Six months later their home was burglarized again, and this time the crooks were caught on video.

According to the news report, two men entered the home and stole a DVD player, some movies, a video camera, and cash. During the burglary, the men entered the bedroom where the PC and camera were running, and the camera captured video of both men's faces.

Upon learning of the burglary, the homeowners contacted the local police and gave them a copy of the video from the PC camera. Needless to say the police were impressed with the evidence. But the homeowners didn't stop with the local police; they set up a Web site and posted images of the burglars' faces in an attempt to track down the culprits.

I was tickled to learn what these people had done. Had they not installed the camera, they'd stand far less chance of catching the crooks. Be sure to read the news report, and consider establishing such a monitoring system for your premises, whether just for your home or for your business. It's a good addition to your overall security. Until next time, have a great week.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.