A Primer on Electronic Security for Schools, Universities & Institutions

Blog Site for 2nd Edition Discussions & Reference Material

This is an excerpt from the draft of the 2nd edition, “A Primer on Electronic Security for Schools, Universities & Institutions”.  Readers are asked for their comments and viewpoints surrounding this snipet.
Tangets and offshoots to this topic are welcome.

Online Storage & Cloud Computing

Online cloud computing (where the actual programs reside offsite) and online storage solutions have entered the security marketplace. These developments have proven to be highly successful & cost effective for general business operations but have not been rapidly embraced by security applications due to concerns over security of data, potential loss of data, and business continuity should the cloud be inaccessible.

At first glance, online storage from providers such as Amazon & Google are enticing with very low cost per gigabyte.  Constantly streaming video creates high bandwidth demands which are too costly for most school environments. 

In addition to bandwidth constraints, access to security related data online is a concern.  The following excerpt from FBI Cyber Publication outlines some of these security concerns.

“As the cost of storage continues to fall, more options are available for people to utilize on-line Internet resources to store their personal and business data. Service providers offering these services provide convenience and transparency for little to no cost.  While everyone is responsible for their own personal non-business related data and can select any online storage solution they feel comfortable with, this is not an option with many businesses.

 Understand that when you save business related company data to a non-company approved solution, such as an on-line storage service provider, you may be putting that data and your company at risk.  There are several risks associated with using a non-company provided solution or service.  These risks include the basics of information security—CIA, Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability.  Some questions and serious concerns include:

  • Will the service provider properly protect your data?
  • Who has access to your data?
  • Is the security sufficient to prevent others from cracking my password?
  • Will the data be protected from damage should the service provider have technical issues?
  • Who has control of the backup and where is that data stored?
  • What if I need support?
  • What if I’m required to submit files as part of a legal action?

 Since there are many security questions and risks associated with personal on-line storage solutions, businesses should not allow employees to use these services and providers for work related data. Only company authorized solutions that have been evaluated and tested should be used for business related activities.”

Short URL: http://goo.gl/spNEH
  1. Alan Avidan Said,

    Some very good points were mentioned here about bandwidth management, and the economical benefits of hosted services.

    There is no doubt that Hosted (cloud) Video Services for schools are here, and are taking over the traditional role of DVRs. This is a permanent transition, in my opinion, and is similar to the transformation of answering machines to voicemail. If you’re still fighting dead/stolen DVRs, and use video as an after-the-fact-see-what-happened tool, you need to take a look at hosted video services (also called Video as a Service – VaaS).

    The reason hosted solutions are becoming the dominant video solution is the confluence of technologies of Internet Plug and Play, lower long-term off-site storage costs, effective bandwidth compression and intelligent bandwidth management (H.264), and ability to send real-time video clips to individuals on the go with smartphones (who doesn’t have one, nowadays?) and laptops.

    With local (not hosted) video, namely DVRs, one had to worry a lot about their hard drive crashing, or the DVR being stolen or tampered (criminals today know to walk out with or destroy the DVR). If you’re in charge of several locations you may have different types of DVRs, and remembering how to extract video from them, or how to update their software can be challenging.

    There are many benefits to hosted video services. First, a superintendant can have instant access to several schools right from his/her PC, and can enable others to access (view) some facilities, but not others, depending on their roles. Second, they can store their video on the remote (secure) server for up to a year at very low cost. They can always do a live look-in to any camera at any location, but more importantly, when something happens, say a motion detector triggers, or a panic button was pressed, or even a specific time has arrived, they can get a short video clip sent to them in seconds, vastly improving their situational awareness, reducing false alarm dispatch, or dispatching police with action descriptions.

    All this costs less than traditional DVRs, possibly less than the maintenance budget to maintain the DVRs in a school district running. Furthermore, it’s a service – you pay a fixed low monthly (or more likely quarterly) fee that does not hit you by surprise. Even the entry fee and setup costs are very low; and being Plug and Play means that almost anyone can install and get the service started – you don’t need a static IP, or any IT knowledge. One literally connects the camera cables to the back of a small box and plugs in the broadband connection, and service starts one minute after that. Well, it can get a tad more complicated, when you want to schedule “virtual video tours” at a given time and camera, but the user interface running on your browser is pretty intuitive and simple. It may be fair to say that “The DVR is Dead – Long live Hosted Video Services.”
    If interested take a look at http://www.ozvision.com, or contact me at [email protected] to discuss.

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