The Most Dangerous (and Easiest) Way To Export Surveillance Video

Author: Brian Karas, Published on Mar 11, 2016

Rogue cellphones.

Most DVRs/NVRs and VMSes have options to limit video export to external devices, but none of them can fix the analog hole.

Circumventing Security via Cellphone

Facilities may implement security policies for user logins that prevent exporting or sharing of video, but that does not stop an operator from making a video with their cellphone.

Video of high-profile people can net a security guard a payment that could be more than a year's salary, as in the Ray Rice video.

The Jay Z elevator video is rumored to have gone for $250,000.

Other times the video might be exported just for fun:

It can be difficult to track down the source of cell-phone video leaks, making it tempting for employees to export video this way. The leaker of the Jay-Z video was found out and fired, but the leak behind the Ray Rice video was never identified.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

Another example: The Ft Lauderdale shooting video has been released, via a cellphone recording, again from TMZ:

Easier than Clumsy Systems

Sometimes cellphone recording and sharing of clips is to make up for clumsy or inefficient export functions. If you are trying to send a short clip to someone in a hurry, this method can be much faster than going through the process of selecting video for export, letting the export process complete, converting video to non-proprietary format and then emailing the clip.

For short videos, where the story is more important than the details in the video, screen recording via camera is effective. Videos of the brawl captured by the FLIR/Costco DIY system fit this example.

Often Used By Police

Police often complain about difficulties with exporting video. If video stored on citizen NVRs/DVRs cannot be intuitively exported in a simple format police officers have had to resort to using cellphones or body cams to record directly from monitors. This method reduces the quality of the video from the native format, but may be the only practical option in those cases.

No Cell Phone Policies

Privacy-conscious organizations have implemented "no cell phone" policies for operators that routinely work with video surveillance systems. Many video monitoring central stations prohibit operators from having cell phones in their possession while on shift.

With cameras built into phones, tablets and laptops it can be very hard to completely close off the analog loophole and prevent employees from recording on-screen video.

1 report cite this report:

Exporting Video Surveillance Tutorial on Oct 05, 2017
Exporting video surveillance is important when incidents or crimes occur. However, there are multiple ways to export video which have their pros...

Comments (12)

Only IPVM PRO Members may comment. Login or Join.

...but none of them can fix the analog hole.

Couple, three far out 'fixes' for the analog hole.

LCD refresh

You know how sometimes when you make a video of a PC it comes out really bad; dim and with rolling lines thru it? Usually this is a function of the display technology used + PC's refresh rate + the cameras shutter speed.

If you look at the individual frames, you would see many blank screen or partially blank screen frames. The brighter the screen of the PC, the faster the shutter of the cell phone, and the greater the chance of catching the PC during a blanking interval.

And unlike CRT's or even plasmas, LCD screens have little persistence in the luminance of their pixels. They switch on and off quickly and with little effect due to hysteresis. They also have a far wider range of refresh rates available, from 30hz to 240hz. I wonder if a rate could be found that would substantially degrade the picture?

Macrovision ripoff

You may have tried to copy a blockbuster VHS tape and been disappointed with the result. That is likely due to Macrovision protection, a scheme by which the auto gain of the recorder is fooled by a extremely quick and false signal that causes the recorder to constantly adjust the gain, leading to a crappy recording.

Likewise, perhaps a subliminal signal, to quick to be perceived by our eyes, could be introduced that would cause the cellphone camera to adjust by lowering the gain and degrading the video.

Key Lemon

Taking a different approach, there is a face recognition/authentication single sign-on program called Key Lemon, which can automatically lock the session if it no longer detects your face directly in front of the screen. It also records people who try to enter your session. Although, I'm sure someone could stay in front of the screen and record at the same time, I wonder if it could be modified to lock a session if it sees a cell phone in the frame.

I'm sure even that could be beat, but remember the people who take these videos have not figured out how to beat these systems ahead of time, it's not like they are expecting J-Z to walk into an elevator and beat someone up on camera. So just a decent deterrent that makes it harder than just point and shoot may be all you need to make someone think twice.

"It also records people who try to enter your session."

More generally, add a camera on the operators / control room. They may not like that but it would help in checking who filmed the video with their phones.

Exactly, second issue though is having people with access to this who are not trustworthy, if you have dodgy staff then you should be paying for the mistake of not having the right people. (my view on the companies that have these dodgy security guards recording the footage on cellphones)

How much do you have to pay a guard a year so that $250,000 in a day won't tempt him?

I don't consider there to be a correlation between ethics and pay level

Though they say "Every man has his price"...

It's true that cell phones are a problem and the cell videos of celebrities in jail and such are a liability. Look at the award against Marriott for the peep hole video.

Many VMS platforms log who reviews video and for what cameras, but once the genie is out of the bottle it's hard to get back in. Who can you trust and do you use two person authentication to review video?

It won't be the desk clerk paying 22 million in damages.

I have had customers give keys to the building to one employee and alarm codes to another. Two man rule.

Same concept the military uses in silo's. It doesn't make it impossible but it does reduce the odds.

High security places don't allow phones with cameras so for a long time Blackberry made a smart phone with no camera for government workers.

Just having fun here, but most crap DVRs are recording in a lower resolution than the monitor being viewed from yet an iPhone camera resolution is greater so there would actually be more pixels being used to record a video taken directly from a computer monitor attached to a crap DVR (with an iPhone).

This is kind of like the scanners being sold today, what is the point when you can take a picture with your iPhone at 12MP and hit send.

Technology is fun.

TMZ / cell phone strikes again: FT Lauderdale airport shooting footage recorded by cell phone, feared sold to TMZ.

Another vulnerability to be aware of is a MITM attack on the HDMI output of a VMS client that is undergoing the security reviews. I would think that one would even be able to capture 4K with this method with the right gear. I also have seen posts of encrypted HDCP streams failing on such attacks when the intent is to protect the stream. Security is from end to end and not point to point.

I would ensure strict guidelines and processes are set for those who leak video. Make the operators sign a non-disclosure agreement that if they end up leaking the video they could face with serious legal action. Enforce the same.

I usually put a small microdome camera in the Operator Room recording whenever there is someone in the room. This is to let the operators know that they are being watched. If someone does pull out a cell phone to record video - it will be captured.

Setup an Audit Log to capture all actions performed by an operator. Usually they would playback a video at a later date then record it. (not during the actual incident).

Ensure exported video is watermarked & digitally signed - both on storage & export ensuring a chain of trust.

Unfortunately whatever you do may still be a step short for someone who has intent. One can only hope that they have covered all bases.

Related Reports on Police

Pressure Mounts Against Dahua and Hikvision Xinjiang Business on Nov 19, 2018
Pressure is mounting against Hikvision, Dahua, and other companies operating in Xinjiang as an international outcry brews against the Chinese...
Directory of Access Control and Intrusion Startups on Oct 30, 2018
This directory catalogs access control and intrusion detection startups IPVM has found noteworthy. The directory is provided for your review to...
IACP 2018 Police Show Final Report on Oct 08, 2018
IPVM went to Orlando to cover the 2018 IACP conference, the country's largest police show (about as big as ASIS), examining the 700+...
Evidence Of Hikvision's Involvement With Xinjiang IJOP And Re-Education Camps on Oct 02, 2018
IPVM reveals as-yet unreported details about Hikvision’s activities in Xinjiang - a region of China where massive human rights abuses are being...
BluePoint Aims To Bring Life-Safety Mind-Set To Police Pull Stations on Sep 20, 2018
Fire alarm pull stations are commonplace but police ones are not. A self-funded startup, BluePoint Alert Solutions is aiming to make police pull...
Congressional Letter Urges Sanctions Against Dahua and Hikvision For Human Rights Abuses on Sep 04, 2018
17 US Congresspeople sent a letter to the Secretary of State and Treasury urging sanctions against Chinese officials plus Dahua and Hikvision,...
France Political Scandal Reveals Video Surveillance Problems on Aug 22, 2018
In what French media describes as "the most damaging crisis yet for" French President Macron, a political scandal has revealed major gaps in the...
Hikvision Wins Chinese Government Forced Facial Recognition Project Across 967 Mosques on Jul 16, 2018
Hikvision has won a Chinese government tender which requires that facial recognition cameras be set up at the entrance of every single mosque...
Belgium Bans Private Facial Surveillance on Jul 06, 2018
Belgium has effectively banned the use of facial recognition and other biometrics-based video analytics in surveillance cameras for private,...
China Public Video Surveillance Guide: From Skynet to Sharp Eyes on Jun 14, 2018
China is expanding its video surveillance network to achieve “100%” nationwide coverage by 2020, including facial recognition capabilities and a...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Openpath Access Control Tested on Nov 20, 2018
Big investment in access startups is uncommon, but Openpath has recently attracted $20 million doing just that. The company has limited security...
No GDPR Penalties For UK Swann 'Spying Hack' on Nov 20, 2018
The UK’s data protection agency has closed its investigation into Infinova-owned Swann Security UK, the ICO confirmed to IPVM, deciding to take “no...
Milestone Disrupts Milestone With Arcules on Nov 19, 2018
Milestone is now competing against... Milestone's own spinout Arcules. New IPVM testing shows that Arcules has incorporated a substantial amount...
Pressure Mounts Against Dahua and Hikvision Xinjiang Business on Nov 19, 2018
Pressure is mounting against Hikvision, Dahua, and other companies operating in Xinjiang as an international outcry brews against the Chinese...
Arcules Cloud VMS Tested on Nov 19, 2018
Arcules is a big bet, or as they describe themselves a 'bold company', spun out and backed by Milestone and Canon.  But how good is Arcules cloud...
'Sticker' Surveillance Camera Developed (CSEM Witness) on Nov 16, 2018
The Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) has announced what it calls the: world’s first fully autonomous camera that can be...
ISC East 2018 Mini-Show Final Report on Nov 16, 2018
This is our second (updated) and final show report from ISC East. ISC East, by its own admission, is not a national or international show, billed...
Facial Detection Tested on Nov 16, 2018
Facial detection and recognition are increasingly offered by video surveillance manufacturers. Facial detection detects faces in an image/video...
Throughtek P2P/Cloud Solution Profile on Nov 15, 2018
Many IoT manufacturers either do not have the capabilities or the interest to develop their own cloud management software for their devices....
ASIS Offering Custom Research For Manufacturers on Nov 15, 2018
Manufacturers often want to know what industry people think about trends and, in particular, the segments and product they offer.  ASIS and its...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact