HomeDaemon-MCP and Cameras

Cameras are one of the most-frequently desired items to integrate into a home control, monitoring and security system -- right behind the thermostat and frequently before lights and access control such as garage door openers and locks.

The reason is obvious; cameras give you an immediate, "see from anywhere" view of what's going on inside your home and, potentially, around the perimeter -- from anywhere. They can document criminal activity, making it easier to arrest and prosecute someone who breaks in. They allow you to check in on your pets when you're away -- or your pet-sitter. They make a quick check on the babysitter easy too, and while nobody wants to think something bad would happen with either of those people in a position of trust, we all know that occasionally it does.

Yet the common "IP-based" security camera has a number of flaws that make it wholly unsuitable, standing-alone, to be put in your home. Nearly all of them want to talk to a "cloud" computer of some sort, and all that we've seen here try to "phone home" to do that -- all on their own! Worse, many of them have interfaces added for convenience in certain applications (like PVR devices) using easily-abused interfaces with minimal or no security at all.

Adequately securing these devices from outside attack comes with extra cost and maintenance hassle. Not only do you have to trust a manufacturer who is likely in China (and against whom you have zero recourse if they do something evil) but to just meet ordinary reasonable standards of security you must buy a certificate from a public authority for each camera and renew it every year -- at additional expense.

Then there is an inherent technology issue; the most-common format of video from these devices is known as "RTSP". This protocol is quite-efficient at delivering high-resolution video images with the video stream encoding typically being H.264, which is similar to what Netflix and other streaming video services use. However, the video stream itself in this standard-based format is completely insecure, meaning that anyone who can intercept the data stream can see inside your house!

HomeDaemon-MCP completely resolves all of these issues. With HomeDaemon-MCP in your home IP cameras are handled by the system itself, allowing you to completely block any outside access for these devices in any form. Since they can neither be accessed from outside your home's network nor can they "dial out" to Internet locations on their own any internal problems they may have are isolated. For added security you can even place them on their own "VLAN" which has no access to anything other than HomeDaemon-MCP itself.

You then use HomeDaemon to manage the cameras and secure all access to them. Snapshots and video streams can be configured to be taken and recorded via "push" means to a host you control when any event occurs -- whether it's camera-based or not. Instead of simply recording if the "camera" thinks there is motion, for example, you can link the recording function to whether the house is in "away" mode or whether PIR (infra-red motion detectors) have triggered in the vicinity. Instead of storing the (unencrypted) data in some "cloud" machine you have no control over you can instead push it to a remote computer, whether in your home, office, or a machine you buy time on elsewhere completely encrypted in transport. In addition real-time video, including pan and tilt functionality, can be accessed from the mobile Android app -- again, completely-secure during transport, and you can even tell the App to "grab" a 5-minute clip and store it on the phone -- and nowhere else.

By isolating the cameras behind your home firewall router and prohibiting them from accessing the Internet directly in either direction -- in or out -- nearly all of the security risk inherent in using these devices is mitigated. Now you can have cameras in your home but accessible only to you and, should the need arise, the video can be provided to the authorities without risk of third parties playing "peeping tom" in your home at their leisure.