2017 in Focus – what Dr Martin Gren sees

Martin Gren

The film and text is excepted from a podcast interview of Axis co-founder Dr Martin Gren, who was asked about important trends he sees in the security industry in 2017:


I think the key trend of 2017 in our industry is going to be cybersecurity. If we look at video surveillance cameras, they are now IP based and they are an intelligent network node. We’ve seen attacks that were initiated through network cameras that brought down some key services such as DNS and even brought down a whole country. This is a result of cheap and inferior IP cameras and DVRs. They were configured with a standard hard-coded root password and put on the open internet. If this was in the IT industry it’s an absolute no-no.  But we in the security industry, we unfortunately lag behind IT security.

What is very important is that video camera is a network node and you have to apply the same security measures as any other IT security device. The very most basic requirement is the need to assign proper passwords and not have device that has a hard-coded route password. Then you need to look at ways to ring fence it, a very common procedure in IT departments. Having an open port for remote log-in is not typically a good idea, for example, but if you need it you should have it  –  but have different passwords! If it’s a high security environment, you should consider 802.1x; it’s cumbersome but adds an extra layer of security. So, I would say cybersecurity – the threat of hacks and how to prevent hem –  is clearly the Number 1 trend of 2017.

Another point on this: You should know what type of device you have. If you look at corporate IT, they typically approve and disapprove of certain vendors and software.  The same should go for video surveillance equipment –  after all, this is security! Knowing the device you actually have is quite important. It’s common to use OEM devices — so they put on a certain logo on devices but in reality the product comes from another vendor and that vendor may not have the same security measures as the vendor who logo is on it. The problem with OEMs is that typically an OEM will make a skin out of a product – adds his own logo, adds a customer GUI and that’s nice. But when the vendor is upgrading firmware because of a security threat, what happens is the skinning is done by different OEMs and of course the original manufacturer starts by having their own version first and then they need to negotiate with the OEM to add an updated skinning to add security. This process takes 3-6 months so an OEM device on your network will always be 3-6 months behind the original manufacturer. This can actually be a quite a big threat.

IoT and the Internet of Security Things

Throughout Axis history, we have always added devices to the internet, ever since the early 90s. With video surveillance, initially we put the cameras on the network and then encoders. But then we looked at things from a broader perspective. For example, when you have live monitoring of a certain site and you actually see something going on, it can make a big difference to deterring activity before it even starts. I read a report in the US that said 75% of all illegal activities actually terminates if people know they are being watched. How do they know they are being watched? It can be as simple as putting up a network horn speaker. You can tell them to go away. It’s excellent for a school environment where people come at night and dwell or paint graffiti or start fires. If you can just scream to them “Hey we see you! Go away!” It’s such an easy thing to do.

The IP speaker is the ultimate IoT device. It has an IP address, it can take power from the network –  all you need to do is mount it and you’re done. But IoT is more than horn speakers. You can do a traditional door station or intercom. Bear in mind that this is very much an analog market and putting up a high end door station is a big improvement. Same for better cameras. A help point in a city or in an underground are often in places that are not ideal from a camera point of view so that puts a lot of requirements on the camera — so you really need high end cameras. Of course, if it is a train station, it’s also very noisy so you need really superior audio quality, otherwise the device has no value.

Smart codecs and compression

One other trend that is definitely going to happen in 2017 is smart codecs and smart compression. This this has been a key thing in 2016 and is still coming on strong in 2017, if only because of the simple fact that people are deploying higher and higher resolutions. We see strong sales pick up in 4K cameras, for example, because there is not so much price difference between a full HD and 4K. But in order to use 4K is useless without smart compression because it generates too much data.