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Data explosion: Futureproofing your video surveillance infrastructure
Data explosion: Futureproofing your video surveillance infrastructure

Video surveillance systems are producing more unstructured data than ever before. A dramatic decrease in camera costs in recent years has led many businesses to invest in comprehensive surveillance coverage, with more cameras generating more data. Plus, advances in technology mean that the newest (8K) cameras are generating approximately 800% more data than their predecessors (standard definition). Traditional entry-level solutions like network video recorders (NVRs) simply aren’t built to handle massive amounts of data in an efficient, resilient and cost-effective manner. This has left many security pioneers grappling with a data storage conundrum. Should they continue adding more NVR boxes? Or is there another, better, route? Retaining video data In short, yes. To future proof their video surveillance infrastructure, an increasing number of businesses are adopting an end-to-end surveillance architecture with well-integrated, purpose-built platforms for handling video data through its lifecycle. This presents significant advantages in terms of security, compliance and scalability, as well as unlocking new possibilities for data enrichment. All of this with a lower total cost of ownership than traditional solutions. Security teams would typically delete recorded surveillance footage after a few days or weeks Previously, security teams would typically delete recorded surveillance footage after a few days or weeks. However, thanks to increasingly stringent legal and compliance demands, many are now required to retain video data for months or even years. There’s no doubt that this can potentially benefit investigations and increase prosecutions, but it also puts significant pressure on businesses’ storage infrastructure. Data lifecycle management This necessitates a more intelligent approach to data lifecycle management. Rather than simply storing video data in a single location until it’s wiped, an end-to-end video surveillance solution can intelligently migrate data to different storage platforms and media as it ages. So, how does this work? Video is recorded and analysed on a combination of NVR, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and application servers. Then, it’s moved to resilient file storage for a pre-determined period, where it can be immediately retrieved and accessed for review. Finally, based on policies set by heads of security, data is moved from file storage to highly secure, low-cost archive storage such as an object, tape or cloud. Data is moved from file storage to highly secure, low-cost archive storage Long-term storage This process is known as tiering. It allows businesses to use reliable, inexpensive long-term storage for most of their data, whilst still enabling security pioneers to retrieve video data when the need arises, such as during a compliance audit, or to review footage following a security breach. In a nutshell, it offers them the best of both worlds. Scaling your video surveillance infrastructure can be a headache. Businesses that rely on NVRs – even high-end units with 64 or even 96 hard drives – are finding themselves running out of capacity increasingly quickly. In order to scale, security pioneers then have to procure new boxes. With NVRs, this inevitably involves a degree of guesswork. Should they go for the largest possible option, and risk over provisioning? Or perhaps a smaller option, and risk running out of capacity again? Common management console Security pioneers can easily add or remove storage capacity or compute resources – separately or together As businesses add new cameras or replace existing ones, many end up with inadequate surveillance infrastructure made up of multiple NVR boxes along with several application servers for running other surveillance functions such as access control, security photo databases, analytics, etc. This patchwork approach leaves security pioneers scrambling for capacity, maintaining various hardware footprints, repeating updates and checks across multiple systems, and taking up valuable time that could be better spent elsewhere. By contrast, flexible HCI surveillance platforms aggregate the storage and ecosystem applications to run on the same infrastructure and combine viewing under a common management console, avoiding ‘swivel chair’ management workflows. Plus, they offer seamless scalability. Security pioneers can easily add or remove storage capacity or compute resources – separately or together. Data storage solutions Over time, this ensures a lower total cost of ownership. First and foremost, it removes the risk of over provisioning and helps to control hardware sprawl. This in turn leads to hardware maintenance savings and lower power use. Many security pioneers are now looking beyond simple data storage solutions for their video surveillance footage. Meta tags can provide context around data, making it easier to find and access when needed Instead, they’re asking themselves how analysing this data can enable their teams to work faster, more efficiently and productively. Implementing an end-to-end video surveillance architecture enables users to take advantage of AI and machine learning applications which can tag and enrich video surveillance data. These have several key benefits. Firstly, meta tags can provide context around data, making it easier to find and access when needed. Object storage platform For instance, if security teams are notified of a suspicious red truck, they can quickly find data with this tag, rather than manually searching through hours of data, which can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Plus, meta tags can be used to mark data for future analysis. This means that as algorithms are run over time, policies can be set to automatically store data in the right location. For example, if a video is determined to contain cars driving in and out of your premises, it would be moved to long-term archiving such as an object storage platform for compliance purposes. If, on the other hand, it contained 24 hours of an empty parking lot, it could be wiped. These same meta tags may be used to eventually expire the compliance data in the archive after it is no longer needed based on policy. Video surveillance architecture Continuing to rely on traditional systems like NVRs will fast become unsustainable for businesses Even if your organisation isn’t using machine learning or artificial intelligence-powered applications to enhance your data today, it probably will be one, three, or even five years down the line. Implementing a flexible end-to-end video surveillance solution prepares you for this possibility. With new advances in technology, the quantity of data captured by video surveillance systems will continue rising throughout the coming decade. As such, continuing to rely on traditional systems like NVRs will fast become unsustainable for businesses. Looking forward, when moving to an end-to-end video surveillance architecture, security pioneers should make sure to evaluate options from different vendors. For true futureproofing, it’s a good idea to opt for a flexible, modular solution, which allow different elements to be upgraded to more advanced technologies when they become available.

Hybrid working and the threat of desk data
Hybrid working and the threat of desk data

The transition to remote working has been a revelation for many traditional office staff, yet concerns over data security risks are rising. Mark Harper of HSM explains why businesses and their remote workers must remain vigilant when it comes to physical document security in homes. Pre-pandemic, home offices were often that neglected room in people’s homes. But now things are different. After the initial lockdown in 2020, 46.6% of UK workers did some work at home with 86% of those doing so because of the pandemic. Semi-permanent workspaces Since then, many have found that over time, those semi-permanent workspaces have become slightly more permanent – with official hybrid working coming into effect for an assortment of businesses and their teams. The adoption of hybrid working can in fact be seen as one of the few positives to come from the pandemic, with less travel, more freedom and higher productivity top of the benefits list for businesses and their employees. The handling of sensitive documents, is a growing concern for office managers But those welcomed benefits don’t tell the whole story. The transition to remote working has undoubtedly impacted workplace security, with various touch points at risk. The handling of sensitive documents for example, is a growing concern for office managers. In simpler times, sensitive data was more or less contained in an office space, but with millions of home setups to now think about, how can businesses and their office managers control the issue of desk data? Physical document security As of January 2021, it’s said that one in three UK workers are based exclusively at home. That’s millions of individuals from a variety of sectors, all of which must continue in their efforts to remain data secure. With that, reports of cyber security fears are consistently making the news but that shouldn’t be the sole focus. There is also the underlying, but growing, issue of physical document security. The move to remote working hasn’t removed these physical forms of data – think hard drives, USBs and paper based documentation. A recent surge in demand for home printers for example, only exemplifies the use of physical documents and the potential security issues home offices are facing. Adding to that, research conducted in 2020 found that two out of three employees who printed documents at home admitted to binning those documents both in and outside of their house without shredding them. Data security concern Without the right equipment, policies and guidance, businesses are sure to be at risk Those findings present a huge data security concern, one that must be fixed immediately. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has since released guidance for those working from their bedrooms and dining tables. Designed to help overcome these challenges, the ‘security checklists’ and ‘top tips’ should be the first port of call for many. Yet throughout, the ICO make reference to ‘following your organisation’s policies and guidance’ – highlighting that the onus isn’t solely on the individuals working from their makeshift offices. Office managers have a monumental task on their hands to ensure teams are well equipped within their home setups. Without the right equipment, policies and guidance, businesses are sure to be at risk. But it would be wrong to insinuate that unsecure desk data has only now become an issue for organisations. Modern office spaces Keeping clear desks has long been a battle for many office managers. In fact, clear desk policies are practised in most modern office spaces, with it recognised as a key preventative to personal information being wrongly accessed and so falling foul of GDPR legislation. Throwing sensitive documents in the bin was never an option pre-pandemic However, the unsupervised aspect of home working has led to a potentially more lax approach to these policies, or in some cases, they can’t be followed at all. For those taking a more laid back approach, organisation leaders must remind staff of their data security responsibilities and why clear desk policies have previously proven effective. Ultimately, throwing sensitive documents in the bin was never an option pre-pandemic and this must be carried through to home workspaces now. Securely destroy documents There are also concerns over the equipment people have access to at home. For example, without a reliable home shredding solution, data security suddenly becomes a tougher task. To add to that, several recommendations state that employees working from home should avoid throwing documents away by instead transporting them to the office for shredding once lockdown rules ease. While this is an option, it does pose further issues, with document security at risk of accidental loss or even theft throughout the transportation period, not to mention the time spent in storage. The best and most effective way to securely destroy documents is at the source, especially in environments where higher levels of personal data is regularly handled. Correct shredding equipment The recent findings on home office behaviour represent a true security risk Only when home workers implement their own clear desk policies alongside the correct shredding equipment (at the correct security level), can both home office spaces and regular offices become data secure. Realistically, these solutions should, like the common home printer, become a staple in home office spaces moving forward. The likelihood is that many UK workers will remain in their home offices for the foreseeable future, only to emerge as hybrid workers post-pandemic. And while the current working environment is more ideal for some than others, the recent findings on home office behaviour represent a true security risk to organisations. With this in mind, it’s now more key than ever for business leaders, their office managers and homeworkers to all step up and get a handle on home data security policies (as well as maintaining their standards back at the office) – starting with the implementation of clear desk policies. After all, a clear desk equals a clear mind.

Data-at-rest encryption: at the centre of the security circle
Data-at-rest encryption: at the centre of the security circle

The past decade has seen unprecedented growth in data creation and management. The products and services that consumers use every day – and the systems businesses, large and small, rely on – all revolve around data. The increasing frequency of high-profile data breaches and hacks should be alarming to anyone, and there’s a danger data security could worsen in the coming years. According to DataAge 2025, a report by IDC and Seagate, by 2025, almost 90% of all data created in the global datasphere will require some level of security, but less than half of it will actually be secured. Nuanced approach to data security Security is a circle, not a line. Every actor involved in the handling and processing of data has responsibility for ensuring its securityThe rapid proliferation of embedded systems, IoT, real-time data and AI-powered cognitive systems – as well as new legislation like the European Union’s GDPR – means that data security has to be a priority for businesses like never before. With data used, stored and analysed at both the hardware and software level, we need a new and more nuanced approach to data security. Security is a circle, not a line. Every actor involved in the handling and processing of data has responsibility for ensuring its security. What this means in practice is renewed focus on areas of hardware and software protection that have previously not been top of mind or received large amounts of investment from businesses, with security at the drive level being a prime example. The importance of data-at-rest encryption In a world where data is everywhere, businesses need always-on protection. Data-at-rest encryption helps to ensure that data is secure right down to the storage medium in which it is held in a number of ways. Hardware-level encryption, firmware protection for the hard drive, and instant, secure erasing technology allow devices to be retired with minimal risk of data misuse. Data-at-rest encryption helps to ensure that data is secure right down to the storage medium in which it is held in a number of ways A recent report from Thales Data Threat found that data-at-rest security tools can be a great way to help protect your data. However, it’s important to note that this must be used in conjunction with other security measures to ensure that those that fraudulently gain access to your key management system can’t access your data. Ensuring drives to be Common Criteria compliant One straightforward test any business can do to ensure its storage is as secure as possible is to check whether the drives are Common Criteria compliantDespite the clear benefits, this kind of encryption lags behind other areas, such as network and endpoint security, in terms of the investment it currently receives. The same Thales Data Threat report found that data-at-rest security was receiving some of the lowest levels of spending increases in 2016 (44%), versus a 62% increase for network and a 56% increase for endpoint security. One straightforward test any business can do to ensure its storage is as secure as possible is to check whether the drives are Common Criteria compliant. Common Criteria is an international standard for computer security certification, and drives that meet this standard have a foundational level of protection which users can build on. Providing an additional layer of security The retail industry has seen a spate of security breaches recently, with several major US brands suffering attacks over the busy Easter weekend this year. As frequent handlers of consumer card information, retailers are particularly vulnerable to attack. Data-at-rest encryption could enhance security in these instances, providing an additional layer of security between customer records and the attacker The advanced threats retailers face can often evade security defences without detection. Such a breach could grant attackers unrestricted access to sensitive information for possibly months – some breaches are known to have been detected only after consumer payment details appeared on the dark web. These types of undetected attacks are highly dangerous for retailers, which are relatively helpless to protect consumer information once their defences have been compromised. Data-at-rest encryption could significantly enhance security in these instances, providing an additional layer of security between customer records and the attacker which has the potential to make the stolen data valueless to cyber criminals. Industries in need of data-at-rest encryption Healthcare organisations, which hold highly sensitive customer and patient information, have a strong use case for data-at-rest encryption. With the widespread adoption of electronic patient health records, that data is increasingly more vulnerable to attack. Recent research from the American Medical Association and Accenture revealed that 74% of physicians are concerned over future attacks that may compromise patient records. With the widespread adoption of electronic patient health records, that data is increasingly more vulnerable to attack The financial sector would also benefit from further investment in data-at-rest encryption, given 78% of financial services firms globally are planning on increasing their spending on critical data, according to Thales’ Data Threat Report. It’s helpful to view security as a circle in which every piece of hardware and software handling the data plays its part SMEs and enterprises are not immune to security threats either – with growing numbers of people traveling for work or working remotely, the risk of sensitive business data becoming exposed via device theft is heightened. Usernames and passwords have little use if thieves can simply remove unencrypted hard drives and copy data across. Securing every hardware and software Technology vendors often focus on aspects of hardware and application security that are within their control. This is understandable, but it risks proliferating a siloed approach to data security. There is no single line for data security -- rather, it’s helpful to view it as a circle in which every piece of hardware and software handling the data plays its part. There’s a clear need for more industry dialogue and collaboration to ensure data security is effectively deployed and connected throughout the security circle and across the value chain.

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