Securing your digital signage

Often when discussing digital signage solutions with our customers concerns about security come up. Not surprisingly, customers cite rare but very real situations such as the Yagan Square screen takeover in Perth or the infamous adult content on McDonald’s displays in Switzerland.

With the right strategy, hardware and software choices, you can minimise the risk of screen takeovers. A digital signage integrator can assist in getting the mix right and ensuring your signage network is both reliable and free from ill-intent.

Generally speaking, there are three layers that round out a digital signage network: Physical hardware, operating system and signage software, each with their own security considerations.

Physical Hardware

Physically locking down your digital signage is probably the most important aspect of digital signage security. If you don’t take this into consideration, it leaves your displays open to the public and it takes minimal effort for someone to change the content on your signage. Some models on the market come with USB autoplay features, which is means all it takes is for someone to come up and plug in a USB with unwanted content on it.

Some things to consider are:
  • Clad around your display(s) so that physically accessing them is impossible without the right tools.
  • If an enclosure around the entire display isn’t an option, consider building a small enclosure for the media player and cables to be housed, this will ensure someone can’t come in and swap out the media player easily.
  • Consider putting the media player completely out of sight – in a comms room or server rack, and running display cable (HDMI or HDBaseT) from there to the screen.
  • Make sure to use commercial-grade signage displays, these include things like remote/button lock and other security features. Domestic displays usually have vulnerable features such as screen mirroring which enables users with mobile phones to share their screens with your display.
Operating System

Another aspect of digital signage security often overlooked is the operating system. Without physical access, this is the next easiest way for a would-be hacker to gain access to your screen. Digital signage operating systems vary, from a standard Windows or Linux PC, integrated System-on-Chip (onboard media players within the screens themselves), through to dedicated digital signage media players with their own proprietary operating systems.

More often than not, choice of media player/operating system is determined by budget, performance and feature requirements, so security needs to be considered with that specific media player in mind.

Some considerations are:
  • Put the media player/screen behind a firewall to ensure all incoming traffic is blocked.
  • Ensure to keep security patches up to date, as well as media player firmware if applicable.
  • If using a Windows/Linux PC, ensure you disable network services that are not required for your signage application.
Digital Signage CMS

The final consideration is your choice of digital signage application, or content management system. Even if you have your hardware and operating systems locked down, your screens can still be vulnerable if you choose the wrong software provider. There are hundreds of digital signage application options on the market, from free, open-source applications, to costly but reliable pay-per-device options.

When choosing a digital signage application, security and track record should be high on your list of considerations.

Key things to look for:
  • Find out where the data is hosted, and what security standards and certifications they hold.
  • Ensure you choose an application where the data is encrypted between server and client.
  • Be sure to look for solutions that use HTTPS, if something as simple as the website shows ‘HTTP’ and not HTTPS, forget about it.

Working with a digital signage integrator will ensure you cover off the above with ease. Most integrators partner with only reputable hardware and software providers and will only spec media players that suit your requirements.

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