For January and February, we chose some of the staples of open source security (GnuPG and Nmap) as the tool of the month. And deservedly so; both have just celebrated their ten-year anniversary in the open source realm, a rare feat for any open source project, much less one founded on security.

But for the month of March, we wanted to move ahead and change gears. This month's Open Source Tool is no newbie for sure, but we bet that most of you reading haven't heard of it. While most Linux security tools deal with digital security, this month's tool is one of the few to cross that divide;

Welcome to Zone Minder, the Open Source Tool for March...

You've seen all the movies.

A museum security guard on the night-watch sits munching on donuts and sipping coffee as he stares, eyes glazing, into 20 camera monitors. Enter two thieves through a side-window to steal a million-dollar painting from that very same museum. Having planned this for weeks, they know exactly what to do, synchronize their watches and spring into action. One secretly trips a false alarm to distract the guard's attention, forcing him to leave his station. And really, he wasn't paying attention anyway. All the while, the other thief slips into the main chamber, uses some fancy tools, avoids some laser sensors and steals the painting.

Having been distracted from watching the monitors, the guard misses it all. He sits back down, shrugs and takes another sip of his coffee as the thieves escape, painting in hand, not to be tracked until morning.

Or not.

In real life, the first thief distracts the guard while the other moves into the main room to steal the painting. The guard, away from his station, gets an immediate email alert sent to his mobile phone that the camera in the main room has detected movement. So does another guard, an off-site security firm and the museum's insurance company, all sent by the security software tracking and implementing the whole system. Immediately, the police are called and in three minutes they show up to apprehend the thieves.

Sorry thieves, no dice.

ZoneMinder is real security with Linux:

Surveillance software with this kind of remote monitoring capability isn't just for those with thousands of dollars. It's free, it's open source and its ZoneMinder.

While not everyone may need to set up a home surveillance system, for those who've been the subject of a house or office theft, it can be worth it. In fact, with thousand dollar laptops and the like, everyone from home users to small business owners can benefit from such a system. And since ZoneMinder provides all this and more free with a Linux-based system, if there's even a small need, and you have a modest budget of a couple hundred dollars for the equipment, why not?

From the site: "ZoneMinder is the top Linux video camera security and surveillance solution. ZoneMinder is intended for use in single or multi-camera video security applications, including commercial or home CCTV, theft prevention and child, family member or home monitoring and other domestic care scenarios."

After being subjected to theft where he wasn't able to catch the thief in the act, Philip Coombes decided to create a completely open source tool for robust surveillance capability. Of course, as stated, you need the hardware; the cameras themselves, the wires to link to the computer (or a wireless router), not to mention the computing power necessary to run your system.

But with the ability for capture, analysis, recording, and monitoring of video data coming from one or more cameras connected to a Linux system, a web-based GUI for remote access, available email alerts and a laundry list of capabilities, ZoneMinder is one heck of a security tool available to the open source community.

So for the month of March, keep an eye out for more articles on using this open source security tool!

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