Security in video doorbell intercoms
Camilla Ashdown, 31. 03. 2023 | 4 min read
Video doorbell intercoms are designed to secure the front entrances to buildings however they also need to be secure and not vulnerable to attacks – whether cyber or physical.
As technology continues to advance, the need for robust security features in video doorbell intercoms has become increasingly important. IP video intercoms, which use the internet protocol to transmit data, offer many advantages over traditional analogue intercoms, such as remote management, scalability, and advanced features that users find convenient. However, they also pose new security risks, which must be addressed to ensure the safety and security of buildings and their occupants. In this blog post, we will explore the security features needed in IP intercoms and how they can be both cyber-secure and physically secure – and give your end-users peace of mind by providing the right access features.
Physical Security Features: what should a video doorbell intercom have to protect it physically?
In addition to cybersecurity, physical security is also essential for intercoms. Physical security measures are designed to prevent unauthorized access to the system and protect it from damage or tampering. A good rule of thumb is to start with a provider that prioritises quality in craftsmanship and materials – as well as one who tests their devices regularly to be sure they last longer than a few months. What else is good to look out for?
Tamper-proof design: The video doorbell intercom should be designed to be tamper-proof, with features such as sealed enclosures, anti-tamper screws, or secure mounting brackets. Of course, there should be also a tamper switch inside - either mechanical or optical, which triggers an alarm in the monitoring centre in case of unauthorised opening of the device.
Impact resistance: The video doorbell intercom should also be able to resist impact damage from vandalism or even accidental damage from everyday wear and tear. This can be achieved by using robust and durable materials, such as aluminium or zinc alloy with IP69K and IK10 ratings. This, in combination with a well-designed mechanical product structure, will ensure your video doorbell intercom is highly resistant to damage. Even high-tech intercoms with touch screens can be scratch resistant: it just depends on the manufacturer and the materials they use. Some intercoms are close to indestructible – they make good options for high-security projects in high-risk areas.
Weather resistance: The video doorbell intercom should be weather-resistant to protect it from the elements: whether it's direct sunlight, intense rain, or dusty environments. This can be achieved by using waterproof or weather-resistant materials – as well as the manufacturer focusing on rigorous environmental testing as part of the development process.
Cybersecurity is a major concern for any video intercom system. Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in the system to gain unauthorized access, steal data, or cause damage. For a general overview of cybersecurity in access control and what it should involve, read up on our 7 best practices.
But which features should a cyber-secure video doorbell intercom (and the platform that manages it) have? Well, one of the most essential security features in video intercoms is encryption. Encryption ensures that all communication between the intercom system and other devices (such as indoor panels) is secure and private and prevents hackers from intercepting communication and stealing data or gaining unauthorized access to the system. Manufacturers should use the best encryption protocols such as SSL, AES, or RSA to secure the data in transit.
Another critical security feature is regular software updates. Regular updates to the intercom system's software help patch security vulnerabilities and fix any bugs that may have been discovered. Manufacturers should provide regular updates to their devices and encourage users to install them promptly.
Manufacturers must also implement multi-factor authentication to secure access to the video intercom system. Multi-factor authentication requires users to provide two or more forms of identification to gain access to the system. This feature ensures that only authorized users can access the system and reduces the risk of unauthorized access.
It’s a good idea to find someone that provides secure user interfaces to ensure that users can securely manage their video intercom system – and that has ways of blocking unwanted access. The user interface should be protected with strong passwords and provide a secure connection for remote access. Manufacturers should also encourage users to change their passwords regularly and should set up a firewall to prevent unauthorized access from external networks. The firewall should be configured to block all traffic except for the authorized traffic that is required for the system to function. Another good idea is an audit trail: whereby the system logs all access and activity to help pinpoint any unauthorized access or suspicious activity.
Modern Security Features: how video doorbell intercoms make buildings more secure
But how can video doorbell intercoms protect the physical security of buildings? By offering a range of advanced security features…
One of the most important security features that modern video doorbell intercoms offer is video surveillance. IP intercoms today are equipped with very high-quality cameras typically in Full-HD resolution and can thus be a full-fledged part of video monitoring systems providing a visual record of who is entering and leaving the building. Video surveillance can help prevent theft, vandalism, or other criminal activity. It can also be used as evidence in the event of a crime.
Facial recognition technology is another security feature offered by modern IP intercoms. Facial recognition technology allows authorized individuals to enter the building without the need for keys or access cards. When a person approaches the intercom, the camera captures their image, and the system compares it to a database of authorized individuals. If the person's face matches the database, the intercom will grant access.
Facial recognition technology can greatly enhance security, as it eliminates the need for physical keys or access cards, which can be lost or stolen. It also makes it more difficult for unauthorized individuals to gain access to the building. However – it’s not perfect. It works well in crowds using CCTV, however for intercoms, people are often hesitant to provide such sensitive data. We recommend choosing an alternative method of access that provides the same speed without potentially violating GDPR.
Two-way communication is another great security feature offered by modern video doorbell intercoms. Two-way communication allows the visitor and the resident to communicate with each other before granting access. This allows the resident to verify the identity of the visitor and ensure that they are authorized to enter the building.
Two-way communication also allows residents to communicate with delivery personnel or service providers, such as maintenance workers or cleaners. This can improve the overall security and efficiency of the building. This feature also works very well to make projects more inclusive: the hearing-impaired can communicate via sign language.
Access Control: including mobile access
Access control is, of course, a key security feature that modern video doorbell intercoms offer. IP intercoms can be integrated with access control systems to manage access to the building and are configured to restrict access to certain areas of the building to only authorised users. Access control systems can also be configured to provide different levels of access to different users. For example, residents may have access to all areas of the building, while service providers may only have access to certain areas.
Access control can take many forms – but the most modern IP intercoms can be accessed via a mobile app, allowing residents to enter the building using only their phones. This can make access more convenient and secure: residents no longer need to carry physical keys or access cards which are susceptible to being misplaced or stolen. Instead, they use their phones to enter the building. People are more likely to guard their phones with more importance than a small RFID card and are less likely to forget them on the bus!
If you have a particularly security-sensitive project, mobile access can be enhanced to an added layer of security. The system can be configured to require secondary authentication (such as a PIN code) before granting access. This makes it even more difficult for unauthorized individuals to gain access to the building.
Worried about cyber attacks on mobile access technology, or misread credentials? If you choose the right provider, it’s not an issue. Bluetooth communication is fast, reliable, and safe! Choose a technology fully protected in a unique secure channel that uses AES-128 and RSA-1024 encryption keys. What’s more, the right technology uses adaptive algorithms and RSSi signal trend analysis to let the video doorbell intercom know if the user is approaching it or moving away. This means a phone within range but lying on a table, for example, will never open a door: preventing any unwanted access.
Overall – it’s our advice to choose a manufacturer that doesn’t neglect any aspect of security in their video doorbell intercoms. They should be cyber secure as well as physically secure – as should the cloud platforms that manage and configure them! At the end of the day, it’s all about the right manufacturer. One who focuses on quality of craftsmanship, and designs all devices with cybersecurity in mind, will set you on the right path!