A wireless camera (also commonly referred to as a network or IP camera) is a camera that connects to a wireless internet network and sends live video feeds that can be accessed from any remote web browser or mobile device. While often used for surveillance purposes, wireless cameras can also be used to monitor children or pets at home or employees at a small business.
All wireless cameras have the same inherent functionality, but not all are created equal; different units boast different specifications that determine each camera's compatibility with certain Wi-Fi networks. Whether you want to use a wireless network camera to remotely monitor your home or small business, understanding the following internet connectivity specifications is crucial.
Wireless Network Standards
Wireless network standards refers to wireless networking transmission methods that are commonly used to provide wireless connectivity, or Wi-Fi, in a home or place of business.
802.11n Wireless-N, or 802.11n, is the newest wireless local area network (WLAN) technology designed for high-speed internet. Developed by the international Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the standard was created to support the most bandwidth-exhaustive applications, including those that stream high-definition (HD) music and video. 802.11n is required to be backward compatible, which means devices such as wireless cameras that are compatible with earlier Wi-Fi standards should work on a Wireless-N network. However, a wireless camera compatible with 802.11b/g standards and running on a Wireless-N network will likely have lower output quality.
802.11b/g Also known as Wireless-B and Wireless-G, 802.11b and 802.11g are the Wi-Fi standards that preceded the Wireless-N standard. While not as fast or robust as Wireless-N, the two standards are still widely used as many users have yet to switch to a Wireless-N network.
Internet security protocols are digital protocols that utilize encryption methods to safeguard data when transmitted across wireless networks. A wireless camera that supports the latest internet security protocols means its live video feeds are encrypted during transmission and can only be accessed by authorized users.
WEP Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is a security algorithm designed for the aforementioned 802.11 wireless networks to replicate the security of a hardwired connection. After its debut, the protocol was found to have several weaknesses and was susceptible to eavesdropping. It is now a deprecated protocol, meaning it has been superseded. Any wireless camera that boasts WEP support should also support more recent security protocols.
WPA/WPA2 Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) is the security protocol that displaced and addressed the weaknesses of WEP. WPA has been replaced by WPA2, which introduced new encryption methods with stronger security. Starting in 2006, WPA2 certification was mandatory on all devices bearing the Wi-Fi trademark.
TSL/SSL Transport Layer Security (TSL) and its precursor Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) are cryptographic protocols that provide security for internet communications, including email and instant messaging. Wireless cameras that boast SSL or TSL support allow users to receive email notifications from the camera through web-based email clients that require SSL authentication.
Understanding the internet and encryption specifications of a wireless camera is necessary in order to choose a camera that is secure and supported by your wireless network.