Digital signs are being installed at an ever growing rate on many campuses. As educational, administrative, athletic, and informational units see the effectiveness of these signs they want one or more to tell their story.
These screen can use multiple forms of digital information from static to dynamic and allow interaction with the viewing public. If you fail to protect your digital signage infrastructure it has the possibility of being high jacked and embarrassing your organization. Without proper security logical, physical and access manage you could easily become a target of the would be hacker. These individuals are out to use your systems for their purposes or to simply embarrass your institution. This type of misuse could easily result in your institution being the lead story on the local evening news.
Too often a digital signage communications system is viewed as a simple content publishing system and those assigned to implement and manage such systems lack the skills to properly and safely perform the assigned task. Individuals finding themselves in this situation should contact their Information Technology specialist to help with the implementation and access management. If you are responsible for planning, management or oversight for your campus-wide digital signage communications network, you should be aware of the issues and concerns related to securing your systems and content – which also means protecting your University’s brand. You could also start by attending the “Staying Off the 6 O’clock News: What You Need to Know About Keeping Your Digital Signage Network Safe,” general conference seminar.
With any digital communications technology, the first thing to consider is the physical security of all the installed devices. What steps have you taken to secure it – and really how secure is it? An unsecured media player is an open invitation to meddling and the variety of things that could go wrong should be keeping you up at night. The first and most obvious vulnerability is the fact that the equipment can easily be damaged or stolen. Unsecured equipment has a way of disappearing quickly and is costly to replace or repair. Have lack of precautions made it possible for someone to simply walk up and make your network misbehave?
If you’re not sure, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are the digital signs on campus installed in such a way that they are open or secured from behind the fascia?
- Can the content player be restarted without authorization from any individual location?
- Is the BIOS password protected?
- Does the content software auto start?
- Is Bluetooth active, and can devices connect to it?
- Are the USB ports active?
- Are the USB ports physically accessible, or are they secured?
- Is the video output from the player secured? Or, can someone walk up and plug their own device into the display and broadcast whatever they wish?
The second thing to worry about is logical, or network security. Precautions must be taken with each content player or you could be exposing your entire digital signage communications network system to an attack. Such a lapse will also provide an easy attack vector into your data center, which would expose personnel, their personal data and potentially any sensitive data that is also resident on any university systems that communicate with the network or share servers. A quick list of network security checks should include questions like:
- Has your information security staff scanned the network it for vulnerabilities?
- Is the system being scanned for vulnerabilities on a regular basis?
- Is your network and any devices connected to it firewall enabled?
- Have you patched the system? Are you sure it is patched?
- How are you monitoring the system regularly to ensure its health?
- Are you treating your media players like managed devices, or like appliances?
There’s a lot more to think about when deploying a digital signage communications network. You should make a point to understand best practices that you can use to protect your systems and service from being compromised, protect your institution’s brand and your job.
Author Ed Dickison will co-present general conference session E7 at EduComm Expo 2016 entitled, “Staying off the 6 O’clock News: What You Need to Know to About Keeping Your Digital Signage Safe,” on Wednesday, 11/16 from 10:00-10:50am at Chicago’s Navy Pier. For More information on EduComm Expo 2016, or to register for this or any other educational seminar or workshop and learn more about digital communications technologies and strategies, go to www.educommexpo.com