Don’t Let Your AV be a Target

Let me tell you a story and see if it sounds familiar.


I was sitting in a meeting the other day and our network administrators were going on and on about security.  You can not put this on the network, you can not use your regular username and password for that.  We can not put that in front of the firewall.  I tend to drift off and daydream as these discussions are going on.  I mean, seriously, we are not running the World Bank here!


Perhaps this story sounds familiar to you as a Technology Manager.  Or, perhaps as an integrator it sounds familiar to you when you attempt to introduce new technologies to your customers.  You hear the refrain, “I would love to do that, but my network administrators won’t let me”.  I have had integrators even suggest they go over to Best Buy and purchase and install their own wireless router, in order to get equipment on the network.  After all, these network guys are just making it hard for us to do our work.


Up until recently, I may have tended to feel the same.  Although, I would never go out to Best Buy and purchase a router for our corporate network.  When I suggested to the integrator that maybe I should go to Best Buy and purchase the TV and speakers from them, he stopped talking about the route.   Our network administrators are here to help us do work after all, not impede work, right?  Yes, that is right, but they also have an enormous responsibility to protect very sensitive data.  Our institutions use all types of private information on students, donors, staff, alumni and parents.  It is the role of our network administrators to protect that information from getting out into the hands of hackers.


Recent data breaches, particularly the one at Target in late 2013 show us that systems from even the top retailers in the country are vulnerable.    They also show us that people can get their names in the news for reasons they may not like.  Recent news stories are reporting that the Target break may have been caused by the hackers getting into the systems of Target’s refrigeration company.  The details are not public, or very clear, but it seems that an attack on the contractor allowed hacker’s access into Target’s systems.  I feel for both Target and for the refrigeration company.  They have both gained notoriety due to this hack.


So, what does all this have to do with us and AV?  Well, how many companies are doing remote monitoring of AV systems?  How many of us have hundreds of pieces of equipment on the network?  How many of us have given serious thought to protecting these systems from outside attacks?  Likely, many of “AV people” have given this very little thought.

Let me tell you a little secret though, your network admins have given this thought and they have been telling you about it for years.  Maybe it is time we start listening.  Take your network administrator out for lunch and listen to them, rather than daydream.  Tell them about what you have going on, and let them determine if it is secure.  They may be the people that keep your name out of the news as the person who created a security hole that caused a significant security breach.