A lost or forgotten password for a device or app is usually at most an annoyance. In typical circumstances, it is relatively easy to recover a lost password; a user can simply click the “forgot password” button on a website or app, or call technical support, wherein the user will be sent an email, text or call with instructions for recovery. Unfortunately, most DVR CCTV systems do not follow the same user-friendly approach for a password reset.
Once you or a fellow user has forgotten or lost the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) or Network Video Recorder (NVR) password, you will become completely locked out of the system. Unfortunately, in the short term, there is not a great deal you can do in this case. Rebooting the device will not fix the issue, and built-in guest accounts won’t help either. You are likely to face an uphill struggle to get this issue sorted out!
A Digital Video Recorder, like most digital consumer devices, has a built-in user management system included in the user interface. During the initial setup of your DVR, you are prompted to create a primary username and additional sub-accounts. Most DVR GUIs will automatically initiate changing the default password for security purposes; if not, you will find the selection in the main menu. All such DVRs or security system appliances have an administrator or superuser account and a password that is set during the manufacturing process.
The default passwords for DVRs are either formatted as a standard plaintext password or the serial number of the system. Plaintext passwords for DVRs are usually documented in the device user manual, and a PDF copy of the manual will be available online at the manufacturer’s website; a quick Google search will find you what you need. There are many default username and password combinations for DVRs, the common ones are; admin/admin, admin/123456, admin/secure, admin/password, but it should be noted that we are seeing these default credentials being phased out in the very latest releases of H.264 DVR products.
Like all critical appliance passwords, we recommend that the password is documented within a secured password repository application. There are many available, most are open-source and free. A few good apps are KeePass, Password Manager, and LastPass. This software protects your passwords in an encrypted, password-protected database, and the database can be shared between authorized users for concurrent access. This approach may prove useful for your business.
There are many reasons why users forget or misplace passwords, and it is best practice to have a more complex password for a DVR; this is especially important for businesses who need to protect confidential CCTV recordings that are kept on the DVR. Please note that CCTV and sound recordings may be subject to data privacy regulations.
Complex passwords are easy to forget, though you might learn the password after several months of entering it every day. Often, complex passwords need to be “written down” in a password repo. Never write down the password on a whiteboard or notepad.
There are many reasons why a user may forget the DVR admin user. Some of the most common explanations the Gillware data recovery engineers witness are caused by:
- Employees leaving the business
- Password credentials are not shared between employees
- No knowledge transfer session is not arranged for employees who are leaving before you realize the employee has gone and no one else knows the password
- The business may not be able to email or call the employee if the employee exit was not amicable
- Customers have bought a second-hand device, possibly from a business liquidation fire sale, and need the login and password
Consider how your organization will manage if the DVR password is changed by a temporary employee or as part of a scheduled monthly password cycle, and for whatever reason, the login credentials are not shared. The DVR may become locked out.