Security web-cam catches burglar

Following the attempted break-in at my house, I was wishing I had set up an automated camera system to get photos of the culprit. Even cheap web-cams come bundled with software that can do it. A story on Slashdot today reports that somebody in England set this up, and it worked. Using the photos, the police were able to arrest the suspect (on parole from a previous burglary) almost immediately.

I’ve been giving some thought to how to set it up myself. A web-cam on my PC would be a start, but that would only capture an image of somebody stealing my PC (a P2 300MHz… they’re welcome to it.) I’ve also been considering wireless “network cameras” made by Panasonic and others. These are great. They have a built in web-server, and many models you can remotely pan and tilt them from the web interface. There was a story about these on Slashdot a while ago, about how you can easily google for thousands of these network cameras whose owners have not bothered to secure them. Needless to say, I would secure mine.

The wireless network cameras would be easiest to use. Trouble is, all the wireless network cameras I can find support only WEP encryption, which has been completely and thoroughly cracked. I want to switch my 802.11 network to the still-secure WPA encryption, but I can only switch if all the clients support it. My Linksys Wireless Game Adapter is another client with no WPA support, and Linksys was not able to give me any idea when, or even if, there would be firmware upgrade to add WPA to it.

My plan, at this point, is to deploy two separate 802.11 networks in my house. An “outer” network, which will use WEP, or maybe no encryption at all, and have only well-protected or unimportant hosts on it. That would include the network camera, the X-box, and maybe a PC that captures images from the network camera. And, a separate “inner” network, connected to the outer network, but protected by its own firewall, and using WPA for wireless security.

The reason for nesting the networks in this way is so that both network can still access the Internet through a single cable modem account. Basically, it’s a NAT inside a NAT.

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