Contingency planning – best practices to reduce disruption in your surveillance system

In the last post we highlighted the main aspects of a contingency plan as a tool for any organisation to prevent system failures and mitigate their impact on daily operations.
In this article we analyse how these principles apply to a Video Management System to address threats and possible failures.

VMS contingencies are linked to the networking structure and the servers that host the system’s services. So it is important to guarantee the integrity and functionality of the network and its components for business continuity.

A contingency plan should include system redundancy to increase the fault tolerance of the security system, such us network redundancy,  so that if there is a fault with any part of the link then it should be possible for the data to find an alternate path, and hardware redundancy, so that it is possible to switch on the failover server.

Best practices to prevent VMS threats and failures

  1. Hardware Failure

All devices and components that face either mechanical or thermal stresses should be expected to experience partial or total failures at some point in their life cycle, especially if they operate for an extended periods of time, in harsh environments or are subjected to frequent power outages. Heat, dust and moisture can badly affect the system performance.
Electrical devices need to be properly cooled and ventilated to keep them functional in the long term. Regular cleaning is also advised to keep the accumulation of dust to a minimum. Unused connection ports should also be kept dust free and protected with covers, where possible.

The use of RAID technology can improve fault tolerance, ensure better overall performance and increase the available storage capacity that can be used in a reliable way. A failover solution can prevent your system from going down in case of a server failure.
Hardware and software updates and necessary upgrades should be conducted on a regular basis.

  1. Network disconnection

A network connection could fail for different reasons:

  • Faulty network interface card
  • Faulty network port
  • Network settings configured incorrectly

A properly designed network architecture ensures maximum functionality and availability for data communication. A well-planned architecture can also scale easily, for future system expansion.

It is highly recommended for security organisations to consult with ICT staff on how to develop fault-tolerant network architectures for specific environments.
Cameras and users should be either physically or logically separated from each other through the use of separate switches or Virtual LANs to minimise the bandwidth consumption. For the same reason, recording servers need two connections to the system, one for cameras and the other for the client PC.

  1. Security system breaches

Security breaches happen when security policy, procedures or system are violated. A surveillance system is often a target for vandalism, sabotage and an attempt of video footage hijacking. In order to prevent these threats keep the servers in a locked room or cabinet and allow the access to authorised staff only. Set user authorisation and specific user rights to control data access. Use strong passwords and, in some cases, configure a dual password to make it harder for potential intruders to gain access to the system.

 

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