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CCTV Over The Internet and Routers - 03/10/2010

CCTV systems of yesteryear comprised of a VHS video recorder hooked up to a multichannel CCTV box, this would produce grainy video spread over countless tapes and were the bain of security staff.  Todays CCTV systems are much smarter.  Todays systems record onto an internal hard drive, can start and stop themselves depending on movement, and most importantly for me, the cameras and stored data can be viewed over the internet.

That's right!  If you are familiar with the idea of a webcam where you can see your friends and family over the internet, then the same methods can be applied to your CCTV systems.  Typically the CCTV system, the box where all the camera cables plug into, will come with an ethernet socket too, the same sort of socket used to connect your PC to the router.  This allows the CCTV box to be connected to the same network as your computers.  Within the system's administration menus will be the network settings which if configured correctly will allow access to the CCTV via the network. 

This means the computers on the same network as the CCTV box can connect to the CCTV and view the cameras using a web browser such as internet explorer.  This is great, especially if the CCTV box is in some dark storeroom and the manager wants to view the CCTV from the comfort of their office.  But what about if the manager or a security company wants to view the CCTV from a remote location like home or a central office?

Any good office network is protected from the big bad world of the internet via a firewall.  This firewall is normally the router that connects the office network to the internet.  The router can be configured to allow certain parts ( "ports") of the internet in.  Those parts, or ports can be routed to the CCTV system alone without risk to the rest of the computers in the office.  By allowing the ports to be forwarded to the CCTV box the system can be access from anywhere on the internet.

The first issue to making this work is knowing which ports to allow through.  Hopefully any good CCTV manufacturer will have listed these port in their manual.  Then there is the problem of working out how to configure the router to allow these ports through to the CCTV box alone.  Again any good router manufacturer will have comprehensive manuals which should guide you through this.  The final thing to do is ensure that the CCTV system is protected with a password.  If anyone anywhere on the internet can access the CCTV it is very wise to password protect otherwise thieves will be able to monitor your comings and goings from the comfort of their home too.

I'd love to be able to link you through to an online CCTV system, to show you how it works, but this would be too much of a security risk!

Cheers, Ren.

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