IP Security Breaks into More Than Just Video

While IP surveillance enjoys rapid growth, other IP-based security systems aren't far behind

For intrusion detection applications, Bosch Security Systems uses IP technology for alarm and event communication, remote administration, and system integration. "We have a module that allows virtually any existing alarm panel to become an IP communicator over a customer'sexisting network," says Tom Mechler, product marketing manager for Bosch's intrusion detection systems. "IP alarm communication provides faster communication than traditional telephone dial up, and because the IP communicators are polled every 75 seconds, any disturbance is annunciated and can be dealt with before it becomes a safety issue."

Concern remains

Bulletproof reliability in IP-based security systems remains an area of concern. "Data security is a challenge, and unfortunately, not everyone has risen to it," contends S2 Security's Moss. "The newer vendors using real TCP/IP networking and authentication are doing it, but some vendors made their panels 15 years ago, with processors that don't have the power to do the arithmetic required to properly securedata."

The concept of security over IP also raises the specter of intruders hacking into a system. "When this issue comes up, we tell customers that if someone can access their network to view security video, they've got much bigger problems than [that]," says Bosch's Lott. "Mosthackers don't care about watching your lobby. If they gain access tothe network, they're going to go after financial data and trade secrets. Your IP-based security system is only as secure as your network."

Analog systems traditionally have low failure rates; in the IP world, however, software and networks are known to periodically go down."Unlike digital, where there is either video or no video, analog allows you to still make out a picture even when there's a problem," points out Lott. "However, with IP systems we have network redundancy, and we've also built extra reliability into our products." Bosch offers an "automatic network replenishment" feature with its IP cameras; this technology provides camera-based recording functionality in the event of a network failure, as well as automatic retrieval of the missing video once the network comes back on line.

"Many customers are still using traditional coax systems, and see these as a more viable and secure solution for many applications," admits Honeywell's Switzer. "A customer with a system in place that works just fine may prefer to stick with what they have, versus having ahybrid system where 50 cameras are on coax and 15 are IP-based over Category 5e; however, for a customer with an extensive network infrastructure, IP security can be used to drive an extension of that infrastructure."

Lott adds, "The reliability concerns always come down to how advanced and how robust your infrastructure and IT department are. If you have a very reliable network, IP-based security is not an issue."

BETSY ZIOBRON is a freelance writer covering the cabling industry,and a frequent contributor to Cabling Installation & Maintenance, She can be reached at: