Home security cameras

Looking into home security cameras where I can see live feeds from an app on my phone, and also on my Purism 14 when I get it.

Recommendations, thoughts, comments about ones that folks here feel are safe, secure, etc.

A few friends have mentioned this one, ZN62, here…http://atteztech.com/en/

And this software…https://zoneminder.com/

This is a more complex beast than one might think. The first question is, what is the need (how many camera/feeds) and what features (recording or live only, inside, outside, alarms etc.). The second question is what is/are your threat scenario(s) and risks (can you tolerate cameras being used against you, can you secure the data link, can you separate this system from your other network activies to keep them secure or does that matter - relative to the need). And then there are the questions or how technically savvy you are (or your friend is, if you can get them to do this and handle the upkeep), as well as how much you are willing to pay.

[Edit to add: I am assuming that most consumer level cameras can be hacked and are hard or impossible to keep updated and secure - information that isn’t mostly easily given to customers. Many IP cams have a small linux running them, but the problem is, that it’s a closed system - no way to login in, only to the video service. Sometimes you can hack a HW (test)port to access.]

If this would be a simple thing, you could get an IP camera and set it up so, that you only need to direct you webbrowser to its address and look at a standard video feed image (or a still image, if it’s set up to record only once per minute or hour or something like that). Preferably, the modern cams have a secure login (and setting with different level of user accounts) and the streams are encrypted, so they can’t be looked at by anyone else. Preferably this happens outside of cloud, as many cams offer services, where the login site and storage are online - which is conveninent, has to be measured against your answer to the first questions (mainly, do you trust them, and how much is it).

From there the topic expands wildly. Do you want to set up your own server for this. Maybe your own network so the streams bandwidth doesn’t interfere other activities and one can’t be compromised via the other (easily at least). You’ll probably have to look into dynamic dns to have an easy access to your login site (or go for something bigger and permanent), if you’d prefer not to use the manufacturer’s service.

If it isn’t anything that shows anything you’re not comfortable showing the world (say, a nature cam), it should be easy enough to pipe that stream to a website elsewhere, if you have a webserver available. Even if not, I would advice you to consider first about the camera placement, so that what it shows is limited to only what is absolutely needed to be shown for the purpose. This helps manage risks and also limits privacy issues, as you are responsible of other people too (specifics vary by country, of course).

Next, think about if you need all that resolution, as it may slow down data transfer, bog the net and cost in either data transfer or storage. Third, do you need all the FPS or just a few images per second/minute/hour/day. For identification, more FPS is sometimes better than having full HD, but neither will help, if the lighting sucks (external lightsource may be needed and take care that there aren’t any bright light in the background - including occasional reflection from sun). Even expensive high dynamic range cams have limits on that but help, especially at night.

And then there is what to do with the streams - the video stream recording. Is one location safe and secure for the data. What features are needed (different alarms and notifications come to mind)? Most of these are a bit big for just a camera or two, so make sure their requirements match what you have. I haven’t got enough experience to say much more on them.

Sorry, probably a bit more on the subject than you wanted, and no suggestions. There may be better sites for this topic. But if you’re solution involves L5, I’m interested to hear what you come up with and especially why that solution.

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I would think carefully about it, the camera industry is a really shitty one : no update, open servers with rights for everyone, password hardcoded in firmware, … here a conference about security in the camera industry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8DjTcANBx0
Lots of IoT cameras end up zombies for botnets

JR-Fi made a big good point about knowing your need
I don’t know for what purpose you want that kind of system, which are more “monitoring system” than “security system” (marketing name)
Like a view on your street or a view in the bedroom of your kids (which is probably not a good idea, here a video about a bedroom camera hacked https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsJSDX0DfSA)

If you really want this kind of system I suggest you to put some kind of indirect access to the camera (if you have the knowledge to do this)


MB recently had a great podcast on physical security, see here:

A summary / checklist of what they presented is also on their website:

Might help.

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Wow, lots of info to think about. More specifically for me, a standard home security (monitoring?) system, front and back entry points, driveway, that sort of thing. Be nice to be able to view live from a smartphone, as well as a laptop, only record when motion detected, etc.
But honestly, seems most that I see are designed to work with google home or alexa, etc. of which I want no part of. Being new to Linux in general, I wasn’t sure if there were linux solutions out there that folks liked, felt they were secure, and used.

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So, it’s going to take a bit of work. I’m not around where you are so I can’t say what kind of solutions your local security appliance stores offer. Some security outfits have kits too that are connected to their 24/7 centers (if something happens, do you want someone to respond to it too or is this more like a deterrance and for after-event needs?) If you want it fully yours, it’s going to take bit of work and study, sure.

First, I’d probably take a look at what you have to work with (router, broadband capability, any old machine you can set up as a server and a space for it, any possible network cabeling and electrical outlets etc.). Electrical outlets limit surprisingly lot where to place cameras (but they can be used to set up limited networks too - wireless are an option but are more prone to interference, depending on your area and structures). Also: new cams have direct 4G data to network, so, if that works, it may simplify things (depending on other needs too). And don’t forget what you can get secondhand/used.

Then I’d take a look at all those places you mentioned (a good list is need about what is needed to monitor) and think what’s going on there in normal situation and if something bad is happening. If this is about people, think where they stand, where they move (paths) and which way they are facing. Then see where you could place your cameras, so that you get those images. If you have dual needs (want to see “what is happening” and “identify who it is”), then you may need two cameras to get a wide angle and a closeup. Entrypoints are good, as they force people to move via certain path, which is hard to circumvent - which is to be considered: do the cameras cover enough and can I get the best coverage (full is usually less ideal otherwise). Then it’s about which way people are going and which side you prefer to see.

After that, start looking around, where are the places and angles where you can put your cameras. The optimal places are not always an option. You can use you cell phone to take pics to see what you would see from a possible point. That should help you also to see what the lighting is, if something may blind the view. Also, measure the distances from those points to the network - direct and indirect (as in, where to put the cables - may be much longer, if you want to make ti nice as you may need to take the cable via structures).

That should give you data on what are the limits of your project, the physical network, number of cameras and such.

Edit to add: If you want to be pedantic, write a short description (plus all the other data) of each camera - what is it supposed to see and look at, what are it’s limitations, what does it not see and what actions/functions you hope to have based on the info that you or your systems may get from the view (just basic level view or maybe an action triggered by movement at certain time - including, if this is supposed to be connected to any home security as that is a whole different animal, since some of your camera needs may be better handled by an IR-sensor for instance in some cases).

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Yes. In particular, the trend these days is towards offering monitoring from anywhere via your smartphone … at the price of integrating the surveillance of your home permanently with some company and its servers somewhere.

You need to consider carefully whether the threat to your home from not having security cameras is greater than or less than the threat to your home from a hack of that company’s servers / a hack of your security cameras.

Even if you don’t use the monitor-from-anywhere functionality, you need to be aware of whether the camera is “phoning home”.

So unfortunately to use these kinds of cameras securely requires a bit more than the average customer’s technical expertise.

To be quite blunt: Speaking for myself only, I would not install any commercially available security camera.

Now from time to time, people have mused about the non-existent Librem IP Camera … :wink:


Hmmm… If price and time wern’t an issue, L5s could be used. Very secure, updatable and even has internal capacity to run functionalities on camera side (like identify stuff from image before sending data, which saves bandwith) - just needs a weather protective case and some way to fix it to wall or ceiling. Currently PinePhone may be a more balanced choice, though, considering price (if it meets other needs, like resolution, FPS and view angle). :thinking:

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Zoneminder is neat because it lets you connect a bunch of IP cameras to it and still record video even while the cameras are being denied WAN access from your router, which hopefully should be sufficient to deal with the camera’s lackluster security (if they’re PoE, non-wifi cameras).
But it requires a ton of manual configuration (and you need to invest in a recorder box; a librem mini with an external HDD can handle it just fine). It’ll take a while before you figure everything out. I still haven’t.


This is something on my list for some time, I haven’t done anything about it. I’m leaning toward Home Assistant or Zoneminder, with a homegrown recorder and no direct connection to the internet or the production home network.


It meets the “functioning camera” need.

Yes. My comments above were mainly contemplating the situation where there is access from the camera to the internet.

Not exactly convinced that any phone is a good fit here.

You are not really using the screen, there’s no PoE, well there’s no E(!) by default, keeping the battery charged would be a pain.


get a guard dog. train it and make friends with it. feed him well and he will serve you well. buy a combat-sword, combat-knife (fixed or folder doesn’t matter) and a fire-arm (if you are allowed to). learn to defend yourself (both mentally and physically). make friends whom you can share these or similar skills with …

stay out of trouble (as much as possible) and make peace with GOD and care for your neighbor’s well-being …


Sounds like finding cameras that don’t “phone home” or transmit any data of any kind anywhere is a chore in and of itself. And the system would need to be contained within it’s own network, no access to internet, which kills any remote viewing options.

Then, I suppose, if you want remote viewing options, via smartphone, for example, the widely available systems out there can do the job, if you accept that someone else may get access to your video, and whether that is worse than no cameras at all.

Maybe the guard dog/gun/knife is best solution :wink:

I ended up buying a Reolink model for a couple of reasons:

  1. no cloud server required
  2. good Android app
  3. Wi-Fi, large battery and solar charger accessory

I never have to charge the battery, the camera is always available on my phone or web browser and it stores clips when it detects motion. Has night vision.

They are not. Not good, anyways. But could be hacked if only one or two are needed. Connect USB-C adapter with power and E, and have battery work as “built in UPS”. And you can (“can” does not mean “should”) get one of those external lens kits to change viewing angle.

@Bass20 this is where you need to define your need and see how minimal is still usable. There are standalone IR-sensors and stand alone cameras, that send you SMS via 3G/4G, if that’s enough for you. Any sensor or camera is not alone a comprehensive security solution in any case (read that primer that @pfm originally linked). You need physical barriers/structures to slow down / get time to react, and method of countering the threat (anything from dog, to time to hide, to getting security guards there etc.). There are better forums for more comprehensive securitytech perspective.

Not all cameras call home (I’ve tested one for years back - nmap and wireshark to start with, can’t remember much else about a good protocol). But knowing which have been tested, may be such specific info that it’s not found here.


I’m a bit out of the subject here but, I took a look at reolink website and I noticed the following :
in french and german, products are called ‘monitoring’ cameras
in italian and english, products are called ‘security’ cameras
Funny how marketing works :upside_down_face:

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Depends on how stringent your network security requirements are.

Some people would compromise by putting the cameras on their own network but putting one computer on both networks, the camera network and the normal house network (and thereby to the internet) - and then offering some subset of the functionality of the cameras on that one computer - with hopefully very solid access controls into that one computer from the internet and on that one computer.

Only you can decide whether the benefit of remote viewing outweighs the risk.

Zoneminder does have remote viewing options, since it is also a website you host on your own machine, but you have to set up access to it like any other website hosted at home, which may not be possible. If you can’t do that, you can set it up to upload events somewhere via sftp/ftp and email you when they happen.