Security Before Performance in our Connected AV World
In the connected world of cloud-based signage, security has to take precedence over performance and functionality when operating over corporate IT networks. This is often painful for AV managers. Even the flashiest, most impressive AV systems are inherently flawed if there is potential for a network to become a point-of-entry for hackers.
In my experience, IT managers are 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 recognize the solutions they choose must integrate seamlessly and (most of all) securely into corporate systems. 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 the hardware itself is 100% locked down until prompted by system administrators. The solution is to choose a commercial-grade system that is purposefully built for digital signage.
The ease of use of the new cloud-based, IT-centric model for AV systems is rapidly propelling them toward 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 applied will remain the same. They have a “security first” mindset; they will look to ensure that AV systems connected to the network are hardened with endpoint security software that 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 is critical to the network’s long-term, trouble-free performance.