As painful as it may be for AV managers, in the connected world of cloud-based signage operating over corporate IT networks, security has to take precedence over performance and functionality. Even the flashiest, most impressive AV systems are inherently flawed if there is the potential for the network to become a back door point-of-entry for hackers.
In my experience, IT managers are exceptionally reluctant to delegate responsibility for network security to AV pros – or anyone else, for that matter. Understandably so, because their heads are on the block if there is a network breach. While AV professionals typically select technology based on functionality and performance, they need to recognise that the solutions they choose must integrate seamlessly and (most of all) securely into corporate systems. Therefore, it is no longer acceptable to implement consumer hardware and software that lacks good security, network visibility or network management tools.
Any device connected over a network is at risk of being breached or corrupted. Signage networks running consumer operating systems such as Windows and Android are constantly being attacked by hackers. The IT professionals responsible for constructing and managing the corporate IT architecture should never compromise with these consumer-grade solutions. They need to be convinced that any proposed device is robust, secure and future-proofed. Some IT teams insist that the hardware itself is 100% locked down until prompted by a systems administrator. The solution is to choose a commercial-grade system that is purpose-built for digital signage, that can be configured to await instructions on how, when and IF the player connects to the internet.
The ease of use of the new cloud-based, IT-centric model for AV systems is rapidly propelling them towards becoming a core channel in outbound messaging and communications. While it might be a new area of responsibility for network architects and managers, the ground rules they apply remain the same. They have a ‘security first’ mindset and will look to ensure that AV systems connected to the network are hardened and that using endpoint security software keeps any threats out. Endpoints must also have regular security updates to ensure bad actors can’t exploit emergent security vulnerabilities.
Today’s AV deployments are large, ambitious and connected. Implementing them requires a careful balance of network efficiency and deployment cost, without sacrificing the security that’s critical to the network’s long-term, trouble-free performance.