Small Business and Remote Security Monitoring


The problem most small businesses have with their security setups is that they are reactive. They can only look at the video once something has happened, rather than using real time remote monitoring and motion detection alerts. Let’s face it – that’s why most get these cheap eBay systems – the appeal of smartphone apps and all they promise at a fraction of the cost of a full blown ‘professional’ installer. Most of the time the ‘professionals’ are just glorified labourers installing cheap eBay systems that have been rebranded anyway.

Sadly, theres a little bit of networking knowledge needed to get everything set up correctly – which ironically the ‘professionals’ don’t know either (but most teenagers do). Dynamic DNS or static IPs, UPnP, static DHCP, port forwarding – it’s all such a headache. And often end users have not tested their motion detection settings are working properly, so may not get the crucial video they need.

So here’s the breakdown to get things working:

The router and external network traffic

This is one of the most tricky parts and what the ‘pros’ don’t know. Getting traffic from the internet into the premises and back again. So lets start with that first. Without that working, all else is in vain.

Note: Is say router, but I mean any combination of modem/router onsite that is between the DVR and with wider web.

  1. Get access to the router. Make note of the admin username and password – will need them later.
  2. Make a note of local IP range, gateway etc.
  3. Turn on remote administration. Make note of the remote admin IP address and port. Make note of the admin username and password if different to the previous one.
  4. Check if they have a static IP – probably not, so look for the DDNS section and what service providers can be used.
  5. Check if UPnP is supported and on. Some people think UPnP is a security threat, but not really for most small businesses – who’s going to hack them and what for? Too much effort really.
  6. See if you can identify the IP address of the DVR and note that down. If there isn’t one, or you can’t tell what’s what – it may not even be connected to the network yet – deal with that later.
  7. If required, sign up for a DynDNS or No-IP domain. Make note of the full domain, username and password. Go back and enter these into the DDNS section in the router.
  8. Test dynamic DNS is working by setting port forwarding to a device with a know working web server. Open a browser – success! (or troubleshoot dynamic DNS or web server until there is success).

The DVR DHCP and remote access

These DVR’s are actually quite snazzy, for simple bits of hardware and their embeded software is really quite good for what it can do. Just sometimes gets a little lost in translation. Have a poke around both the hardware and GUI. Get familiar – look for the ‘Network’ section in the GUI, which is where we will get this thing connected to the outside world.

Keep an eye out for UPnP (turn it on if you find it) as well as remote admin user/pass and access ports (TCP) for admin and video. Make a note of these – you will need them later.

OK, let’s get cracking:

  1. Check all cables are connected firmly and the network cable is attached, with lights flashing on the network port to confirm connection. If there are no lights check the cable is connected to the router.
  2. Log in the the admin GUI and find the ‘UPnP’ and ‘Network’ sections. If there is a ‘UPnP’ section, start there.
  3. Enable UPnP if it isn’t already, and if you have confirmed the modem supports UPnP. Reboot the device – UPnP magic should take care of the rest. Proceed to test setup some apps, but using the local IP of the DVR first then the dynamic DNS address.
  4. If UPnP fails or is unreliable, use a static IP for the DVR and set up port forwarding in the router. Go to the ‘Network’ section in the DVR GUI and disable dynamic DHCP, then fill in the details for the router (that you noted down earlier…). Reboot the device.
  5. Log in to the router and check you can see the device and it has the IP address you just set via the GUI.
  6. Set port forwarding to the DVR remote access ports (that you noted earlier).
  7. Download and test apps/troubleshoot using the local IP of the DVR first then the dynamic DNS address.
  8. Document everything. Most important.

That’s really all there is too it – in writing. In practice there’s all sorts of quirks to deal with – different modem configs, different DVR configs, no manuals etc. Just make clear notes of everything as you go, or better yet, document as you go.

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