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Thank You From SecurityCamExpert.com

Thanksgiving is a day set aside to be grateful and humble to all that we have, and we are so blessed to have such loyal and wonderful customers like you. Without your continued support over the years, we would not be here, and for that, we sincerely thank you. From the SecurityCamExpert.com family to yours, happy Thanksgiving!

Please remember that we will be closed on Thursday, November 24, 2016, and Friday, November 25, 2016 for the Thanksgiving holiday. Our normal business hours will resume on Monday, November 28, 2016. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.

We hope you enjoy a safe & happy holiday weekend filled with love, happiness, and laughter!

Improving Cyber Security With Artificial Intelligence

The use of artificial intelligence in security systems provides more flexibility, especially with new cyber threats always emerging. Namely, machine learning has garnered much attention for its involvement and improvement of security systems.

Most people use the term “artificial intelligence” loosely these days, but it traditionally refers to the theory and development of computer systems that may perform human tasks. Machine learning is a type of AI that allows a computer to learn, grow, and change when presented with new data.

The evolution of AI can be best described in three stages. First is the basic expert system. If we used this system to help distinguish between a dog and a cat, for example, it would use a single feature such as number of teeth to make the decision. Second is the probability-based system, which evaluates different factors (ex. number of teeth, weight, size) to determine the probability (expressed as a percentage) of the object being a cat or dog. Lastly is deep learning, which uses seemingly endless amounts of labeled samples to differentiate between cats and dogs.

If we applied these to antivirus systems, you could understand how a basic expert system would be weak and need constant updating for new threats. The probability-based system would be a bit stronger, however, only so many features would prove relevant resulting in disregarded data. Deep learning seems the most promising, and a startup called Deep Instinct is looking to develop this approach for cyber security.

Within the Deep Instinct laboratory, the deep learning system is trained on all the known samples of malware, which takes about a day to complete. The process requires heavy-duty graphical processing units to analyze the data, and the end result is a trained system about a gigabyte in size. It is then reduced to about 20 megabytes and can be installed on any endpoint device (including mobile). It works to analyze any incoming threats within a few milliseconds to keep your devices safe.

To keep the system up -to-date, new malware samples are added every few months, and updates are automatically sent to the end point devices. But even if the system is not updated for months, the small brains within the end point devices remain vigilant and can detect new files. The success rate is promising and deep learning systems will likely gain more popularity over time.

While deep learning systems are great for detecting threats, they are not the best for explaining how they did it. Eureqa is a proprietary AI engine from Nutonian whose main job is to find out why things happen. It has proven very valuable for researchers and journal publications, but it also plays a role in cyber security by helping to determine the anatomy of a cyber attack.

Still, cyber security can be a tricky mess. Constant updates are necessary thanks to appearance of new threats and attacks daily. Even though you are employing security systems to protect your data, there are still vulnerabilities between updates. And during that time, hackers can use the security software to test their attacks until something breaks through, leaving numerous customers at risk.

Tailoring your cyber security approaches can help to combat this. For example, Masergy Communications is a managed networking company which uses a combination of both local and global factors to predict and prevent cyber security issues or attacks. The unique local indicators help to improve accuracy.

Acuity Solutions offers the BluVector appliance which uses machine learning for cyber threats, and also uses a local and global approach. The pre-trained engine learns what a benign code looks like, receives updates based on global data, but also engages in new learning based on the individual customer. While the global data is shared, the customer-specific data is not, creating a more unique and secure experience.

As discussed, artificial intelligence and machine learning can greatly benefit different aspects of cyber security. What are your predictions on the future of AI in security solutions? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!

For a wide range of security cameras and surveillance equipment, please visit SecurityCamExpert.com. To speak with a representative or request a site survey, please call 1-888-203-6294.

Drones For Home Security

From law enforcement surveillance to recreational use by consumers, drones have grown in popularity over the years. Because of their advanced capabilities, a company has even created a drone home security system.

Proposed by Sunflower Labs, the system is designed to complement an existing alarm or security system. The drone streams video to your smartphone when a potential danger is detected, allowing you to determine whether you need to take further action or not.

The system is comprised of a drone plus in-ground smart lights used to detect motion, vibration, and sound. Using advanced data analytics, the system can differentiate humans from cars and animals. When there is a disturbance, artificial intelligence determines whether it is dangerous or not. For example, mail delivery persons will be recognized by their behavior (typically a quick stop by the front door or mailbox).

On the other hand, suppose a person approaches the back door and lingers. A push notification will be sent and you will be asked if you would like to look into the situation. Assuming you say yes, the drone will lift from its perch and autonomously fly to where the suspicious person is located. The drone will hover (30ft) until it is told to return to its nest. There is also an option within the app to alert local police.

By sending the drone to investigate first, Sunflower Labs CEO Alex Pachikov believes that this will decrease the number of false alarms. The drone also allows you to monitor your entire property instead of just entrances and exits, like most other security systems.

The drone is designed to be a minimal nuisance. Currently, the propellers automatically shut off if they hit anything, and considering its size, it is relatively quiet. The ultimate goal is decrease noises to a quiet hum and to get its weight down to half a pound (its current weight is two pounds) before it ships. In addition, it features two cameras which only capture footage of the home owner’s property in order to protect neighbors’ privacy.

Still, there are safety, privacy, and nuisance concerns about the drone. Since August, new rules allow operators who have passed an aeronautical exam to fly commercial drones under 55 pounds no higher than 400ft. And autonomous flying is not allowed for commercial drones.

Despite this, Sunflower Labs has no worries. They believe the policies will not apply as the homeowner will use the drone for non-business purposes. Since recreational users face fewer restrictions, homeowners will likely be held in the same regard.

As this system continues to develop, more details will emerge. As for now, the lights are expected to cost $159 each, and the drone may be rented for a fee (comparable to the cost of traditional alarm systems).

Would you consider utilizing this drone security system for your home? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!

For traditional security cameras and equipment, please visit SecurityCamExpert.com. If you have any questions or need assistance, please call us at 1-888-203-6294.

Common Security Camera Mistakes

When it comes to security, you want to deter intruders from targeting your property. Investing in advanced security and surveillance cameras with the latest technologies can be a smart approach, however, in order to be effective, they must be installed properly. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when installing a security camera system on your property.

Mistake #1 – Hiding Your Cameras
The presence of security cameras can deter bad behavior, so why would you hide them? Making them visible from the street, yet out of reach, is a good idea. Keeping the cameras out of reach is important to prevent any tampering or vandalism that could compromise their performance. Burglars are always on the hunt for an easy target, and homes or businesses with security cameras create an extra obstacle.

Mistake #2 – Camera Positioning
The important places to monitor are rather obvious, but you must also take intermittent lighting and weather conditions into consideration. Things like direct sunlight can wash out your recordings, while rain or snow can build up on the lens, and windy days can make branches and leaves a problem. All of these can interfere with your recordings and possibly make your footage useless.

The best way to avoid these issues is to employ proper housing to protect and shade your cameras. Keep an eye on your feed to ensure that various weather conditions are not interrupting your surveillance.

Furthermore, if you’re using IP cameras, it is crucial that each camera location has strong and consistent Wi-Fi signal. Weak or spotty connection will impede your camera system’s performance.

Mistake #3 – Cheap Systems
Unfortunately, not all security cameras are equal. While there are many inexpensive cameras and systems that may seem appealing (especially to your wallet), you will likely run into performance issues. When shopping for security cameras, be sure to pay attention to features and specifications. Look into user feedback and reviews to ensure you are making a sound investment.

Mistake #4 – Passwords
With anything security related, we can’t stress enough how important strong passwords are. And always, always, ALWAYS change the default password. If someone gains unauthorized access to your surveillance feed, they can study the layout of your system and your daily routines, mapping out the best time to attack.

If you have an internet-connected system, it likely offers remote monitoring, thus you need a password to access it. Again, change your default password as soon as possible, and choose a strong, complex, and long password that you can remember.

Mistake #5 – DIY Installation
While it may seem more practical to set things up on your own, it might be better to leave it to the professionals. You don’t want to risk ruining your equipment because you installed it improperly. Trustworthy companies usually offer warranties, and will come back to fix any issues should they arise.

Do you have any other advice to add? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

For a great selection of quality security cameras & CCTV surveillance packages, visit SecurityCamExpert.com. For more information about our products and installation services, please call 1-888-203-6294.

Halloween Safety Tips

This year, Halloween falls on a Monday night. Whether you’re trick-or-treating with the kids, enjoying a night on the town, or simply commuting home, be sure to be vigilant and heed these safety tips.

Adjust To Your Surroundings
Drivers should turn headlights on by dusk, and watch for pedestrians and cyclists. Remember, there is more foot traffic on Halloween.

Pedestrian Safety
If you are the pedestrian or cyclist, do your best to make sure drivers can see you. For dark costumes, try adding something bright or reflective so that they are easier to spot. Cyclists should wear bright, reflective clothing and utilize flashing bike lights if possible.

Trick-Or-Treating
Children age 12 and under should travel with adult supervision. Those going door-to-door should remember to cross the street at corners, using the designated crosswalks and obeying traffic signals.

Strength In Numbers
Those mature enough to celebrate without a chaperone should stick to familiar and well-lit areas. If you will be celebrating outdoors, it is better to travel in groups.

Driver Safety
Popular times for trick-or-treating span from 5:30pm until 9:30pm. You should always be alert for pedestrians, but especially during this time, practice extra caution.

If you have any other Halloween safety tips to mention, please share them with us and your peers on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Everyone from SecurityCamExpert.com wishes you a happy and safe Halloween!

How Connected Technologies Can Help In Emergencies

Staying connected to your home is a convenience in itself, but in the case of natural disasters and emergencies, it can be an invaluable tool. If you live in an area prone to extreme weather, you likely have an emergency plan in place. However, a connected home can provide new and safer options to manage the situation.

Regardless of whether it is your home, vacation property, or even the home of a loved one, here are some ways connected technology can benefit you in the face of an emergency and beyond.

Crimes
Unfortunately, emergency evacuations mean abandoned homes and properties, which is ideal for looters. With connected security cameras, you can keep an eye on who might be entering your home, as well as monitor the possible damage occurring as a result of the natural disaster.

Smart Sensors
Installing water sensors can alert you of flood conditions and even slow leaks, which can cause significant damage over time if not detected early.

Aside from water sensors, carbon monoxide and gas detectors can save lives by alerting you when levels become dangerous.

Connected devices such as smart locks and garage doors often have motion detection sensors which notify you when someone enters or exits your home.

Remote Monitoring & Push Notifications
Because you can monitor from a safe distance, these are ideal in emergency situations. Push notifications provide up-to-date alerts which allow you to deal with situations in a timely fashion. Both enable you to monitor and understand what is going on without putting yourself in danger.

Affordable & Reliable Communication
Because these technologies seem so advanced, people often interpret this as complicated and expensive. However, this is not the case. There are various solutions on the market that offer relatively simple installation for cost-effective prices. Because the accessories and transmission processes have become more affordable over the years, connected technology is more accessible and easier to manage and maintain.

Insurance Discounts
You can possibly get a discount on your homeowner’s insurance if you install smart, connected devices. Many insurance providers are now offering discounts for those with smart homes. Some providers even partner with connected technology manufacturers to offer more incentives for customers.

Furthermore, choosing smart devices for your home helps to relieve emergency personnel and law enforcement agencies. Instead of entering an area affected by a natural disaster, you can check in on your property remotely to stay out of harm’s way and avoid interrupting the ongoing work of emergency personnel.

Peace Of Mind
As a whole, connected devices can offer some peace of mind in stressful, dire times. While these devices can be extremely helpful in disaster areas, all homeowners can benefit from a connected home.

Are you currently using any smart devices or connected technologies within your home? Share your experiences with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

For the best affordable CCTV security and surveillance equipment, visit SecurityCamExpert.com or call 1-888-203-6294 today!

The Future Of Retail Loss Prevention

Loss prevention tactics began with in-store monitoring and patrol. As our technologies evolve and the popularity of online shopping continues to grow, security measures have improved. In fact, a U.S. retail fraud survey revealed that spending on store fraud prevention declined while online fraud prevention spending increased.

Because cybercriminals are constantly sharpening their skills, loss prevention specialists are using new technologies to their advantage as well. For example, data analytics have helped specialists understand suspicious behaviors and patterns in the e-commerce and m-commerce environment, and social media vigilance has helped to identify potential threats.

As the retail industry continues to expand and grow, what’s to come in the future of retail loss prevention?

Video Surveillance
It’s true that retail uses a variety of different technologies to operate, including point-of-sale transaction profiling as well as RFID tracking. However, now more than ever, video surveillance is playing a larger and smarter role.

With video surveillance, loss prevention officers have been able to catch thieves in the act and the recordings have provided excellent evidence. With the introduction of built-in facial recognition technology and video analytics, video surveillance can do so much more.

In the same vein, the smart features, connectivity and convenience put these devices at risk. While their role is to protect the business, retailers must do their part to protect their devices, data, shoppers, and employees.

IT & Outside Vendors
Because of this, loss prevention specialists must develop their knowledge and skills with the new technology. They should understand how to use data analysis to identify ever-changing criminal activities, such as new ideas, concepts and schemes.

Loss prevention specialists, cybersecurity specialists and IT team members must all work together to create a system that complies with privacy issues and maintains heightened security to prevent any data breaches or disasters.

Development Of New Responsibilities
As retailers begin to shift from their brick-and-mortar stores (some even closing completely) to focus on e-commerce and m-commerce, the role of data loss prevention specialists will morph into something new, which encompasses more aspects involved in keeping a company safe and secure.

What are your thoughts on the future of retail and loss prevention? Share your predictions and opinions with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!

Choose the best security cameras and CCTV surveillance equipment to protect your business or home. Visit SecurityCamExpert.com to browse our selection today!

Ethics & Laws Of Home Surveillance

When you decide to install home security cameras, where you place your cameras and how you use your footage is important to consider. For maximum protection, it is recommended to monitor common areas as well as possible points of entrance. While home surveillance is not banned, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid breaking the law.

Home Surveillance Concerns
Within your home, you do have the right to record without informing others, but there are very large exceptions to this rule. First, any area where a “reasonable expectation of privacy” is assumed is off limits. For example, if your home security cameras are monitoring your front yard and possibly the sidewalk and street, your expectation of privacy in these areas is low. On the other hand, bathrooms and bedrooms, where you may be in a state of undress, have a high expectation of privacy, and, thus, are prohibited.

Second, if your cameras enable audio recording, you may want to brush up on wiretapping laws. While these vary slightly from state to state, federal statutes allow audio recording so long as one of the two parties consents. This basically means that you, as the recorder, may know and give consent without informing the other party. However, some states, including California, require dual consent, meaning both parties must be aware and agree to be recorded.

In regards to recording burglars, any trespassers forfeit any expectation of privacy in your home. You may record the person, submit the footage to police, and use your video in court.

For cameras that run non-stop and record audio, you will want to warn any person that is allowed access to your home that these cameras are there and running, otherwise you may run the risk of breaking wiretapping laws. These people include family members, guests/visitors, delivery persons or installers.

The Consent Conundrum
You may now be wondering how you can lawfully gain dual consent. Will verbal consent or a surveillance sticker in the window suffice, or should you have every guest fill out a consent form upon entering? Unfortunately, consent for audio recordings must be given in written form. It is a common misconception that window decals or yard signs are sufficient means to gain consent, as it is expected for visitors to see and recognize them.

However, in a home setting, there may be an exception to the rule. With home cameras, it boils down to what you do, or intend to do, with your recordings. If you don’t do anything with the recording, it is likely that no one will know or care – no harm, no foul.

If you do something with the recording, things change. For example, say a celebrity is a guest in your home and now you have footage of this celebrity hanging out in your home. While selling this footage to a gossip magazine for profit may seem enticing, you will be breaking the law. First, consent was never given from this celebrity.  Second, you cannot use a recording for commercial gain without the subject’s consent.

In regards to wiretapping, a possible solution is to simply turn off audio recording if your devices permit. However, why turn off a service that you have paid for? While thieves are usually fairly quiet while they work, using audio recording for eavesdropping may be beneficial (but puts forth yet another ethical dilemma).

Uses For Recordings
Let’s say you record someone in your home plotting a crime, or admitting to committing a crime. Most states allow you to use the recording to prevent a crime or prove that one was committed.

However, if the recording does not involve a crime and you decide to post it on YouTube or a social media site, you could be engaging in illegal activity. Using a recording for exploitive or commercial purposes (as in the previous celebrity example) may be misappropriation if not all parties consent. As a reminder, laws vary from state to state so please look into your own state’s laws.

Also, even within your own home, recording with the intention of blackmail is illegal.

Law enforcement has the right to ask for your home surveillance if they suspect illegal activity, and a warrant will likely be necessary. However, since most recordings are stored in the cloud, they may be able to go straight to the provider and obtain the footage, bypassing your permission to access.

What Should You Do?
To err on the side of caution, be sure that everyone entering your home is aware that the cameras are there, and avoid placing them in areas where privacy is expected. If you wish to withhold the information, so long as you do not do anything with the footage, you should be fine.

However, there are other reasons to be careful with the privacy of your security cameras. While you may not have the intention to do bad things, hackers may be able to access your cameras and broadcast your feed. To protect yourself and your guests, it is advised to take reasonable security precautions (ex. strong passwords, maintain security Wi-Fi network), and take the ethical high road when using new technology.

Have any other tips or experiences to share? Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Choose from our quality security cameras and surveillance equipment to protect your home or business. Shop our stock online or call 1-888-203-6294 today!

Video Surveillance History

To better understand the current surveillance industry, you should know a little history. Without going into great detail, here are some important milestones of the video surveillance industry from the past decade.

Ten years ago, SD analog cameras and DVRs reigned supreme. While video management software and IP cameras were available, they had yet to become a mainstream solution.

Also around this time, some megapixel cameras were offered. They only supported MJPEG encoding (which made storage and transmission of these more expensive), but they boasted better quality than analog cameras.

And still in the early stages, but a topic of interest, were analytics, which had limited deployment during this time.

Around 2008-2012, IP cameras got a boost from the adoption of H.264 for megapixel cameras. Because IP camera usage was up, VMS software followed suit. The benefits of this upgrade were clear, making it easier for consumers to understand and accept the price increase.

As megapixel and IP cameras grew in popularity, interest in connecting cameras to the cloud was rising. While the dream was to eliminate any on-site recording and maintenance, bandwidth limitations and poor cloud VMS killed the dream.

In 2011, video analytics remained off the radar thanks to performance problems, unhappy customers, and ObjectVideo suing the industry. Even today, analytics are still slowly crawling out of the hole.

In the next few years, edge storage promised the elimination of NVRs and recorder appliances since the storage and software would be housed within the IP camera. Unfortunately, reliability issues deterred early adopters, and the introduction of inexpensive recorder appliances pushed edge storage to the back burner. Rather than becoming a main solution, edge storage was more commonly employed to provide redundancy for higher-end applications.

WDR & Low Light Conditions
Over time, surveillance camera technology has improved to better accommodate low light environments. Before, WDR (wide dynamic range) cameras, which automatically adjusted to harsh lighting conditions, were expensive and limited in availability. Low light performance was generally poor, and even worse in MP cameras (WDR in these were relatively non-existent). Today, the enhancements in quality are evident.

Smart CODECs
Smart CODECs dynamically adapt compression and I frame interval to scene conditions, which ultimately reduces bandwidth requirements and offsets the need to move to H.265. Within recent years, we have seen a rise in this technology. Moving forward, broad support of Smart CODECs will eventually drive down storage costs and remote network challenges.

HD Analog
For more than a decade, IP was the only practical way to deliver MP/HD, however the introduction of HD Analog has successfully killed off SD analog. HD analog uses coaxial cable for transmissions and has dominated sales for homes and small businesses. Some argue that it is just a temporary fix, while others say it will expand features and options to become a mainstay.

Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity has only recently become a major topic in video surveillance, however, many still brush it off. Though recent events have spurred concerns (ex. Sony hacking, Hikvision hacks, Axis’ major exploit), most users perceive a low risk of cybersecurity. As our systems become more connected, we can only hope that cybersecurity is better addressed and taken seriously among manufacturers and consumers alike.

Chinese Manufacturers
Chinese manufacturers have grown as contenders, with their earlier deployments showing poor quality and performance. However, over time, their products have improved and yet still maintain relatively low pricing. These manufacturers were originally OEM suppliers to Western brands, but recent years have shown their branded sales increase in the West.

Drive Down Costs
It seems manufacturers are in a current race to offer the lowest prices (whether to gain share or stay afloat) and consumers seem to be driving this shift. With numerous DIY and simple home solutions, we will see where the video surveillance industry is headed next.

What are your predictions for the future of video surveillance? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

To shop our selection of security camera equipment and packages, please visit SecurityCamExpert.com. For questions about our products and installation services, or to schedule a free* site survey, please call 1-888-203-6294.

How To Turn Your Home Into A Smart Home

Modern technology allows us to easily upgrade our homes to smart homes. Smart homes afford us the ability to automate certain aspects of our homes in order to enhance our daily living. These changes and upgrades in technology enable you to customize your living space, control key systems remotely, and can even help you become more energy efficient.

While this added convenience is appealing to many, there are some things to consider before you begin your transition to a smart home.

Budget
First and foremost, you should set a budget for your upgrades. While smart technology was once thought of as a luxury only available to the wealthy, many devices are more affordable these days, making it easier for more people to make the switch.

Your budget will depend on many different factors, such as the size of your home and your personal goals for this endeavor. You will want to consider how many systems and appliances you want to automate and how integrated you would like your systems to be. For example, if your home is already wired for high-performance broadband connection, you can keep a tight budget. On the other hand, adding devices throughout your entire home will likely cost a significant amount more, necessitating a larger budget.

When choosing your devices, pay attention to the different levels of integration. Also, consider using products from brands that partner with other smart-home device makers to ensure compatibility and future expansions. Because these brands may offer special deals, you may even end up saving money.

Brainstorm By Room
Once you’ve considered all the practicalities of this smart home upgrade, you can start brainstorming about what you would like for each room. Keep in mind that the goal of a smart home is to make your life more convenient. Remember, what works for some people may not work for you. For the best result, your smart home should be tailored to you and your lifestyle.

With that being said, begin by evaluating each room individually. What does this room do? How could smart technology help this room? Take the kitchen, for example. If you loaded the dishwasher, but forgot to start it, you could do so remotely and come home to clean dishes ready for dinner.

Prioritize Installation
Once you have an idea of what you want, prioritization is next. The most important products to start with are likely those which you use every day.

One way to prioritize is to consider automating from the outside in. Start with how to get in and out of your home, which may include smart locks or smart garage door openers. Next, you may want to consider smart lighting, to avoid fumbling in the dark upon arrival, or a smart thermostat to conserve energy and create your ideal climate.

Making the initial switch is the biggest step. Once you get accustomed to the convenience and efficiency, you will likely find new ways to incorporate more smart devices into your daily routine.

Smart Devices For Every Room
Once you’ve tackled the big stuff, here are a few smaller, simpler options you may want to consider implementing in your new smart home.

  • Smart outlet adapters in the living room allow you to plug in different devices and control them remotely through an app on a smartphone or device.
  • Motorized drapes for the bedroom let you easily adjust the lighting and privacy without getting out of bed.
  • Ditch your half-asleep coffee brewing ritual in the morning by installing a smart coffee maker in your kitchen, which you can control through an app.
  • Remote garage door access allows you to open, close, and monitor your garage door from anywhere at any time.

Have you considered or are you currently using smart technology within your home? Which do you find is the most convenient? Share your thoughts and experiences with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Protect your smart home with quality security cameras and CCTV surveillance equipment from SecurityCamExpert.com. Browse our stock online or inquire about our products and installation services by calling 1-888-203-6294.

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