The importance of security cameras become more and more evident each day. People of all walks of life are using security cameras to catch thieves in the act.
Surveillance cameras, like most other technology, has improved dramatically in recent years. No more fuzzy, black and white stills where you can hardly tell if what is on the screen is even a person, let alone a recognizable image.
Having a great CCTV system when something happens is a blessing, providing important evidence of a crime or situation. What if you want to view the footage live? What if you are not near the monitor, or even in your home or business?
The ability to monitor your security system on your mobile phone will give you the freedom and flexibility to disconnect from the monitors and still be able to see what is going on, no matter where you are.
Connecting your CCTV camera to a mobile phone may not be as simple as you may believe. We’ll go through everything you need to know to make the connections properly and give you the mobile monitor capability.
What is CCTV?
Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) is a video surveillance system that includes cameras, monitors, and a video storage system that is closed to outside interventions. Unlike open airwave signals, like television stations or open radio waves, CCTV uses either direct connections to the recording device or uses an encrypted signal to keep the feed protected.
Most people are familiar with CCTV systems used in businesses, and even by law enforcement officers and city municipalities to monitor a specific area. CCTV is a stable monitoring system that can be used in small areas or multiple cameras across several areas.
Benefits of CCTV Cameras
- CCTV primarily acts as a deterrent for would-be criminals. CCTV cameras often signal to thieves they are being monitored record it or even watched live.
- These cameras lead to increased security for you, your property, and anyone else that maybe there.
- CCTV cameras also give the People that live or work in a space added peace of mind; knowing that they essentially always have someone watching their back. Not every crime has a witness, but when you have a CCTV camera do you have a witness all the time.
- Another advantage is that you can monitor your business from anywhere. Advances in technology make it possible to monitor your camera feed on your smartphone or tablet using Wi-Fi. That means you can check in on weekends or even when you are on vacation.
Disadvantages of CCTV Cameras
- While there are some great benefits to CCTV cameras, with all things, they will have their drawbacks. Some people view CCTVs as an invasion of privacy. In fact, there have been too many cases of security cameras being used for criminal activity, such as spying on individuals or recording them without their knowledge.
- Another drawback is price, CCTV cameras are usually much more expensive than other types of security cameras. Constant upgrade necessities will also cost money continually, so they are an investment.
There are some legal issues in installing CCTV cameras. Most states have regulations that require you to notify employees, occupants, and even visitors that the area is monitored by CCTV equipment. And all states have laws against using any recording devices in private areas such as bedroom, bathroom, locker room, or other areas where people are allowed to assume a level of privacy.
Can You Monitor CCTV with a Mobile Phone?
As mentioned, technology now allows you to monitor your CCTV surveillance cameras with a mobile phone. This means you are no longer tied to a security monitor for real-time viewing of your security system.
Benefits of Adding Mobile Phone Monitoring
- The biggest benefit, by far, is the remote capabilities that mobile phone monitor allows you to have. Some CCTV systems can be adjusted remotely, including arming or disarming motion sensors and switching from streaming to the recording. Some CCTV systems even feature two-way voice communication, allowing you to communicate through the camera to whoever is in the field of view.
- Adding a mobile monitor is inherently more convenient, allowing you to be in more than one place at a time. This is a great benefit to individuals that need to monitor the activities at multiple locations.
- Mobile monitoring can be cost-effective for business owners, decrease the need for specialized security personnel, or at least decrease the necessary manpower.
- Mobile monitoring has also been shown to drastically decrease emergency response times and drops in criminal activity. Of the activity that still occurs, homes and business with surveillance exponentially increase the identification, apprehension, and conviction of the perpetrators.
Security Concerns of Going Mobile
There are likely to be some concerns when adding mobile access to CCTV surveillance systems. We’ll address the issues individually.
Security of a Wireless Transmission of Video and Data
Wireless security protocols are constantly improving, and these are wheat your security camera will use to encrypt and transmit the data from the camera to your mobile device.
Secure Internet Transmission of Video and Data
When information is sent outside of your local (home or business network) it is likely going to be less secure than if it remains within your network. Using cameras with higher levels of encryption, including only accessible using password protections will help. Look for a camera that uses SSL/TLS to secure the information on the internet. This is the same that every website uses to secure data, so it is very strong for most situations.
How to Improve Security
To help improve your security cameras overall security here’s a few steps that you need to take on a regular basis.
Make sure that your software is always up to date. Most manufacturers will release software updates at least once, if not twice or more, per year. Making sure that your camera, phone, and mobile apps all have the most up to date software will help keep your entire system remain more secure.
Improved Password Protection
Use password protection protocols. Do not share passwords with different users. Make sure to change your password often and never use passwords that could be easily guessed. Most mobile apps for security cameras will have password encryption included. However, for extra security, you should always sign out of your app when you’re not using it.
Using Strong Passwords
By now you should understand how important it is to use strong passwords on all of your connected devices. Do not use the same password across multiple applications and never store a list of password on a mobile note-taking app.
Tips for a strong password
- Make your password very long
- Include lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols
- Never your personal information, including names and birthdays – both yours and your family members.
- Do not use passwords more than once.
- Use a password manager
Use Built-In Security Features
- Data encryption – like mentioned above, security cameras sometimes have built-in data encryption, however, you may need to enable it as part of the setup pro
- Two-level verifications – In some cases, two-level verifications may be required when setting up the initial access and additional users. Enable this if it is an option.
Only Use a Secured Wi-Fi Connection
Your entire wireless security system is only going to be as secure as your Wi-Fi. We’ve all seen areas where we pulled up multiple Wi-Fi access accounts to find that most of them required a password. Your Wi-Fi should require a password to connect to it and make it a strong one. If you believe the Wi-Fi password has been used by someone you do not want access, change it immediately.
Ways to Improve Wireless Network Security
For those that want to go a step further by improving the wireless network security, we have a few tips to increase your network security.
- Change the password – a surprising number of individuals leave their Wi-Fi password as the default password given to them when their internet was installed, and for people who never use their internet to transmit personal information that would be ok. That means not using your internet for any of the following.
- Online ordering
- Checking your email
- Social media
- Messaging applications
- Sending or receiving photos
- Logging into any website that may have your personal information
- Looking at your children’s school information
Get the point? Anytime you access the internet on unsecured Wi-Fi you put everything you do at risk of being exposed.
- Change your Wireless Network Name (SSID) – this will help reduce the number of accidental attempts at accessing your network and make it clearly identifiable. Some people use names that make it seem as though it is an important agency (FBI, CIA) as part of the name; though we doubt anyone falls for it.
- Enable Network Encryption – Most systems are set to WEP by default and includes only basic encryption. If available use WPA2, the most secure currently available in most routers.
- Monitor Wi-Fi Connections – There are several ways that you can view and monitor who has accessed or who is currently connected to your Wi-Fi network. Checking this regularly will help to prevent unwanted access.
- Turn off your Network When You Are Not At Home – It is surprising how many people come home from vacation or being away to discover someone has been sitting in their driveway using their Wi-Fi. Eliminate the possibility, turn it off or unplug it while you are away unless it is connected to your security system.
- Turn off Remote Access – Turning of remote access to eliminating the ability to access your router’s settings from outside your network. You will have no problem making changes while using the network connection, but this will eliminate others from making changes.
Your Existing System
Way before you can make any adjustments to your existing CCTV surveillance system it is important for you to know what your existing system has here are a few things that you will need to know before connecting your existing CCTV surveillance camera to a mobile device.
DVR or NVR
DVR which is a digital video recorder or NVR which is a network video recorder, are both responsible for recording video. The difference is how the data is processed and stored. In general terms, DVR systems process and encode the video data at the recorder, while in NVR systems, the encoding actually happens the camera and then is sent to the NVR to be stored.
DVR Pros and Cons
Most people are familiar with DVR systems. These are the same types of systems at we have been recording our television shows for decades. DVR security systems use analog cameras and coax cables to connect the cameras to DVR. Increases in technology have made DVR slightly more advanced, but they are still limited; always requiring a direct-wired connection between the camera and the digital recording device, DVR.
DVR systems are also limited in the types of cameras that can be used these cameras are typically more expensive with lower quality imaging options. And finally, DVRs require a physical component, the digital video recorder itself, there are no cloud recording options with a DVR.
NVR Pros and Cons
The newest camera technology in surveillance, NVR, uses IP cameras, and can be either directly connected to the NVR storage system or wirelessly connected. Unlike other wireless cameras, NVR cameras encode the video at the camera, decreasing the chance for the footage to be hacked or otherwise tampered.
Connected NVR systems use high-speed ethernet cables. Depending on the system, ethernet can provide up to 200% more megabits per second of data download and 50-100% higher upload rates. Some state of the art systems has reported speeds so fast, there is no visible delay in data from capture to viewing.
NVR systems are also the only type of system that you can adapt to allow viewing from a remote mobile device.
Your IP Address is going to be necessary to connect your smartphone to the NVR camera system. It can be easily found by searching your internet connection.
Finally, high-speed, reliable internet is required to use a CCTV system and connect to it wirelessly without delay or interference. For individuals in areas of decreased internet capabilities, you may want to consider a separate cellular plan that will only operate your CCTV system.
How to Connect a CCTV Camera to a Mobile Phone Using Wi-Fi
If you have a DVR system that is not currently connected to the internet and want to monitor your CCTV system from your mobile phone, follow these steps.
- Connect your CCTV to the Internet
If you are using a DVR you will have to go into the network section of your DVR to configure the network settings to a static IP address. This will bypass the automatic option that the DVR will use automatically.
- Configure your router
The next step will entail configuring your router for port forwarding.
Steps 3-6 are optional… once a DVR is connected to the internet and assigned a static IP, configuring the port directly allows remote access with ID & Password.
Individuals that are not comfortable configuring port protocols should continue and use a reputable monitor app. Check with the app designer before setting your IP, as they may have specific requirements or suggestions
- Download monitoring app to mobile phone
- Add security cameras to the app
- The select security camera you want to view
- Apply optional configurations
How to Connect a CCTV Camera to a Mobile Phone with Cellular Network
If you have an NVR system that utilizes a cellular network, follow these steps to connect your CCTV systems to a mobile device. This method is straight forward, however, check the instruction within your desired app for any additional steps that may be required.
- Purchase a compatible SIM card
- Insert the SIM card into the camera
- Download monitoring app
- Add security cameras to the app
- Select security camera to view
Connecting a Mobile Phone to CCTV without Internet
Though limited, you can add mobile monitoring to a CCTV system that does connect to the internet. What many people do not realize is that there are ways to use a router that does not require an active internet connection.
- Connect CCTV camera to the router
This will most likely require a direct ethernet cable connection between the CCTV camera and router, the resulting footage, however, may have distortions or delays.
- View camera footage within router range
Security Cameras with Built-in Mobile Access
An alternative in both expense and complexity is to purchase a security system with built-in mobile access. I’ll admittedly not as encrypted, but with the current technology almost as secure as traditional CCTV systems. Unless you require CCTVs to protect highly sensitive material, then they will be more than adequate for most home and business security systems.
Security cameras with built-in access can either be wi-fi or cellular, each with their own unique set up and perks.
Wi-Fi connected security cameras can be wired using ethernet, or wireless. Both use your internet and home network to connect the camera to a central hub. That hub is controlled by your smartphone, usually through a mobile app. This gives you direct access to your camera feed at any moment.
Depending on the camera and any requirements from a security company, you may be able to watch live feeds, utilize cloud storage, and even control the cameras angles directly in the app.
Another option is to use cellular security cameras. Unlike other internet-connected cameras, these cameras use the same cellular connection that your smartphone does. Just like you can stream live on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube, with your phone, you can use a cellular connection by a camera.
The camera, or camera system in some cases, will have their very own Sim Card, just like what is in your cell phone.
The downfall to these cameras is that they require a cellular data plan, which can be costly depending on your location, credit rating, and budget.
Where Can You Use Security Cameras with Remote Access?
Being able to remotely monitor a camera allows you to place them in areas that you were previously limited by things such as electricity and internet. With a cellular camera paired with a solar panel supply, there is really no limitation, within the cellular range that is.
The flexibility of cellular security cameras makes them a great choice for:
- Barns, farms, and ranches – can place security cameras all over their acreage and be able to monitor livestock and crops without the need to disrupt the natural environment.
- Vacation homes – People often disconnect primary utilities from their vacation homes, including the internet. Using a cellular camera and solar panel power cell, you can monitor your vacation home year-round.
- RVs – mobile monitoring is great for RV owners, they never have to worry about being connected, or finding a wi-fi hotspot.
- Wildlife monitoring stations – If you enjoy watching animals in their natural habitat then this is a great use of the technology. Cellular cameras come in a variety of sizes and shapes, so you will only make the tiniest disruption to the environment allowing you to capture amazing wildlife images and live video.
- Remote campsites – Remote campsites and natural survivalist expeditions should really consider the benefits of having a cellular security camera with them. Not only will they allow them to capture some pretty amazing footage, but it can be used as a way to connect with people from home.
- Boats or pontoons – Obviously water and electricity do not mix, so having the option of a security camera mounted directly on your boat or pontoon will help to secure it even when it’s parked in the Marina and you are sitting at home in front of your television.
- Airbnb rooms – people are taking their own tiny cameras with them when they stay in an Airbnb or similar home-sharing space. This allows them to monitor their personal belongings when in an environment inherently less secure than a traditional hotel.
Related read: How to Protect CCTV Camera From the Rain
A Mobile Phone – The Security Camera Alternative
Did you know that you can actually use your mobile phone as a security camera? The idea is a pretty genius as we are updating the phones we use constantly, leaving many of us with old phones just laying around. Here is a quick step by step guide to turning your outdated phone into a high tech security camera.
- Download a security camera app to the phone
There are several security camera apps; many the same features. You can choose whether or not you want to live stream, what you want to record and even how you want to store the footage. Some apps even have motion detection and mobile alerts. there are a couple of options One of our favorites is Alfred.
Alfred is a free app that also includes free cloud storage can you give me a spell for front and rear cameras on a cell phone as well as two-way audio. Another Alfred option is what is called Trust circle, which allows you to grant other people access to your feed. This is great for baby monitoring or nanny cams.
- Install your new camera
After the phone has morphed into a security camera, the next step is to set it up where you are going to view from. You may want to have the app up and running to allow you to adjust angels.
- Power your camera
Remember that you will need to keep the phone plugged in or your security feed will end abruptly. This may slightly limit your location options, but luckily there are very long charging cords these days that will help.
- Sit back and enjoy
Using an old phone is only a temporary solution to a security camera. Smartphones often fight heat issues that can be dangerous. But in a pinch, it can work wonders.
In today’s busy world, it only makes sense to use mobile access with your security cameras. Very few people have the ability to set up dedicated monitors in order to view their security footage. After all, who really has the time?
Technology is improving on a constant basis, and the security of wireless cameras using mobile access is only going to continue to improve. As long as you are taking all the steps possible to secure your video data, then the data is going to be more than secure enough in most cases.
We hope you have found this article helpful and have a slightly better understanding of the ends and outs of connecting your closed-circuit television camera system to a mobile device. We know that there has been a lot of information in this article and some of it can be overwhelming. We hope to have at least pointed in the right direction. As always, be safe and take care of you and yours.