Category Archives: Security

Mac OS Not Bulletproof: Flashback Malware

The recent Flashback Trojan horse threat brings light the concept that no OS is bulletproof, even Mac. As of last week, the number of infected Mac OS computers increased from 270,000 to approximately 600,000 computers bringing it to be the largest Mac malware threat to date. After many software security companies released removal tools over the past few weeks, Apple finally comes through with one of their own.

Apple is now being criticized for their delay in fixing the security vulnerability which first showed its face last September. Many experts suggest, if they were more transparent and promptly released a fix when the vulnerability was found, the extent of damage could have been much smaller.

The Apple perception of being invulnerable to viruses and malware as well as the aforementioned delay in response security threats poses cause for concern as the Mac user base is one of the largest groups with no security software to protect their Mac systems. They are also more susceptible to social engineering based attacks because of the “security perception” of the Mac OS.

Although it can still be said that Apple is still less susceptible to threats than Windows, that is always going to be the case when Windows still has around 90% of the market share with Apple having the remaining 6-10% (depending on data sources). To compare Apples to Apples (no pun intended), if you analyze the infection base when compared to the market share holdings, the Mac Flashback Trojan infection is larger than the Conflicker botnet attack that impacted around 7 million Windows computers “The Flashback Trojan botnet for Mac is equivalent to a Windows botnet of nearly 8.5 million PCs” (Source: PC World).

As the Mac OS’s market share increases in the computer world, their security risk increases exponentially. As no OS in impenetrable, it is important for the developer to take proactive steps towards threat management to support their customer base. Security threat management, transparency, and the push of a “protective” culture is something that Apple could learn from Microsoft Security. Continuing the myth of invincibility is not the answer.

Blue Iris Software is Video Surveillance at its Best

Interested in a home surveillance system without all the cable runs and special DVR hardware? Looking for a video baby monitor but don’t want to spend the $300 on a device you will only use for a few years? Or maybe you are just looking for a matrix display system for multiple cameras or information sources. If so, Blue Iris Software may be for you.

Blue Iris is a software based video recording and surveillance system that runs on a Windows PC. The system allows you to record from up to 64 feeds from almost any camera or image feed that you can port into your local computer or network. Looking to display your computer screen in another room, maybe with a camera feed or two? It can do that as well. Whether you are looking for live video recording, time lapse, or image snapshots, the software is capable. In addition, it also includes a web server with custom user access control to provide an external port to your camera feeds from any local network PC or the Internet (including your smart phone). All for just under $50 with a free15 day demo available.

Blue Iris has allowed us to provide some of our clients with an affordable video monitoring system utilizing existing equipment while providing maximum scalability. With over two years of use and testing, we have been very pleased with the system from a number of different areas.

Blue Iris Matrix Screen

First of all, software support is top notch. In a world where customer service is becoming a thing of the past, this was a welcome sight. We have utilized the system to monitor and matrix multiple internet television feeds, internet informational JPEG images such as doppler radar, current weather, traffic cameras, and more. Some of the systems we have set-up use the web server to provide as a closed-circuit system only on the local network, while others were configured with full user access control and internet access from anywhere in the world.

The video attached below is a recording of Tropical Storm Lee making landfall from a Doppler Radar image feed set on a 24 hour time-lapse recording. The time-lapse was set for 1 second every 10 minutes with a new video recording starting every 12 hours. In order to post the video, we also exported it from Blue Iris to WMV and uploaded it to the web.

Utilizing this system, and an existing computer, you can set-up a 4 camera indoor video monitoring system with multiple internet feeds in addition to your cameras for under$600. This means 4 cameras with clear HD video recording, multiple feeds, and one network cable from your network router through the POE injector to each camera (power and data through one network cable). All accessible from any computer, tablet, smart phone, or internet viewer in your house. We have provided an example cost breakdown below:

4 @ $119.99 ea – Dahua IPC-HFW4300S 3MP Weatherproof IP Security Camera
1 @ 39.95 ea – 8 Port 60W Power Over Ethernet (POE) Power Injector
1 @ $59.95 ea – Blue Iris Software

$579.86 TOTAL

It is also important to note that there are wireless camera options at a similar price point.  However, wireless has a record of being more problematic overtime (i.e. sporadic reboots, feed lock-ups, loss of connection, etc) making them more of a burden in the long term.  With wireless, you are also limited to placing the cameras where you have an wall power outlet to plug in their power cords, which can become a challenge outdoors.  If you are interested in wireless, check out the Wansview ProHD NCM751GA 2MP Weatherproof IP Wireless Security Camera, it is a wireless camera worth the look.

More information on the Blue Iris Software including their demo download can be found at their website listed below.

And if you are in the Houston area and are interested in a video monitoring configuration, feel free to give us a call!