AV should look to IT for security tips

Our series of articles on AV security concludes with a conversation with Thomas Walter, section manager, strategic product marketing at NEC Display Solutions Europe. He talks to Tim Kridel.

TK: In your experience, what are the top vulnerabilities in today’s AV systems?

TW: IoT is becoming an incremental part of AV systems today. AV systems are integrated into networks in many cases; this leads to the same security requirements as for IT products such as computers or laptops. No one would avoid installing anti-virus software on his computer, but many users still don’t protect their AV devices in a similarly appropriate manner. This is intensified by the fact that many displays include embedded computing/players that might be vulnerable to attacks. There are instances where integrated SoCs have been attacked and the display content has been altered when corporates have temporarily lost control over their displays.

We therefore recommend to take the same level of care that we apply to IT devices today. Open and modular computing performance such as OPS computers or Raspberry Pi computing allows the installation of the preferred anti-virus software that best suits the purpose or is widely used throughout the enterprise already.

TK: What are some tips and best practices for minimising those vulnerabilities? 

TW: It is crucial to consider the requirements for AV systems security before adding AV technology onto networks and to protect your network and software interfaces against attacks in the same way as you would your IT. Centralised control of all display systems with management software such as NEC’s NaviSet Administrator, enables proactive protection and a swift reaction should it be required with immediate access to your entire estate. Only systems that allow the installation of protection software such as internet-security suites should be used.

It is recommended that any installation in public or high footfall areas is protected against vandalism with protective glass for displays and cabinets or housings for projection systems and displays.

It is a very good idea to switch off remote control capabilities for all AV systems installed in public spaces. The remote control of large format displays and TVs from the same supplier often use the same commands which has lead to LFDs used in public spaces to be “misused“ by people changing settings with their TV remote control for fun.

As a general recommendation for all computing systems, you should always install updates as soon as they become available , otherwise systems become insecure and any weak points might be open to exploitation. 

TK: A growing number of signage players and other AV systems use Android and Raspberry Pi. Do these platforms have more and/or unique security considerations compared to other platforms? If so, what are those considerations, and what do integrators need to know about addressing them?

TW: Raspberry Pi computing (mainly running Linux software) and other computing devices using the Android Operating system have the same requirements and security considerations as any other IT equipment such as Windows based computing. Security issues have been addressed to a high level on Windows based operating systems today. Enterprises have to ensure that they protect their Android or Linux (Raspberry Pi) based systems with the same level of care (as they would with MS products today). There are reliable security software platforms available even for Android or Linux (RPi), they just have to be used and implemented. This means that combining IT and AV know-how leads to a better use of AV systems and a more secure operation within the Internet of Things.  

In many cases, network based AV systems are closed network systems. When the central point (from which the content is distributed) is well protected, the entire system should be secure.

Read about potential security concerns for AV in Tim Kridel’s article 'Security holes and how to avoid a fall'.

Learn more from Audinate on top vulnerabilities in today’s AV systems in an article from the company’s Kieran Walsh: Shoring up security in enterprise AV

Tips for securing AV systems from Kramer

Q&A with Wyrestorm’s James Meredith on security for wireless systems, IoT vulnerabilities and networking best practice

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