The integration of pro AV and IT has opened the door to a number of exciting digital signage solutions that only a few years ago were not available to marketing professionals working in their respective verticals.
Yet, while deploying networked pro AV solutions enables marketers to deliver more precisely targeted messages to potential customers in real time, it also brings with it the same vectors for potential security problems that plague other IP-networked systems?namely, network security breaches from outside threats and outright theft of installed hardware.
As a value-added reseller, knowing how to protect pro AV systems from hackers and thieves by employing a multi-layered approach to security will put your customers at ease knowing their pro AV and digital signage investment is protected against security breaches.
Install proper security mounts
Let's face it?the objective of effective digital signage is to get eyeballs focused on content for the maximum amount of time. That's how products and services are sold. But it may also give would-be thieves ideas about how nice that 55-inch LCD display might look in their living room.
Fortunately, there are many products that provide security, from anti-theft cables made with aircraft-strength metals to lockable wall mount brackets to ruggedized flat-panel display enclosures.
All of these devices provide certain levels of anti-theft protection depending on how much money is budgeted for them. Cable locks can be purchased for around $30, while flat-panel display enclosures can run $2,000 or more.
Lock down and limit access to control boxes
While low-tech deterrents may prevent pro AV hardware from "walking off," oftentimes, media players and other control devices are left out for individuals to reboot, reset or disconnect.
For a truly secure deployment, all equipment has to be locked up such that only authorized personnel can access it. Better still would be to build some sort of authentication layer into vulnerable apps like those controlling video conferencing, for example.
Incorporate physical security into your network
While physical theft of pro AV hardware may cost a company several thousand dollars, network breaches by hackers with an agenda could embarrass a company and tarnish its brand image by posting inappropriate content across parts of or all of a digital signage network. That kind of breach could wind up costing millions.
Yet, many times, end users themselves create vulnerabilities by piggybacking AV traffic onto their existing IT network. This arrangement makes it possible for some pro AV devices to create a back door into enterprise servers and other critical IT systems.
It may cost more to maintain, but the best way to minimize such a risk would be to partition the IT network so that AV traffic runs on a virtual local area network. It's also a good idea to place such a network behind a firewall.
In addition, some pro AV end users, like those in the government vertical, will not use copper cables, because they can radiate enough signal strength to invite eavesdropping. In many cases, these users will opt for fiber optic cable for added security.
While many of these measures may seem like overkill, the more layers that thieves and hackers have to go through, the more likely it will be that they will be caught or give up. The best strategy to protect your valuable pro AV systems is to build an environment that employs multiple protective rings that create the most obstacles for intruders.
What pro AV protective strategies have your customers been asking about lately?