As audiovisual systems become more complicated, securing those platforms becomes just as complicated.
However, that job of ensuring AV security typically falls to the IT department which is often already overburdened with securing every other potential vulnerability within the organization.
But, if that AV system is deployed on the organization’s network and managed by a third party, that takes some of the security burden away from the end user, says Tommy Mullins, senior vice president of sales for AV and IT provider Onepath.
Mullins, along with President and Chief Operating Officer Luca Jacobellis, spoke at length with Commercial Integrator for an upcoming feature article in October’s print issue of Commercial Integrator (stay tuned for that). We ran through several different topics, including cybersecurity and how AV providers can help keep their customers secure.
How AVoIP helps AV security efforts
Audiovisual systems are being pushed to IT, but in most cases, AV and IT professionals are siloed into their respective disciplines. Securing those AV systems then becomes the role of internal IT staff.
AV and IT systems have historically been deployed on disparate networks and wouldn’t talk to one another. That means a different set of switches and infrastructure for each.
“We look at that and we’re like, ‘Look, there’s a huge opportunity here,’” Mullins said. “Years ago, we decided that voice data and we’re all going to ride on the same network, right? We’re going to unify that network. Why would we not unify this network as well make it simpler to manage, but more importantly, easier and more efficiently to secure it?”
According to Mullins, end users typically don’t realize that AV controls and displays can be compromised, so they don’t take care of it like they would their IT network.
“We realized that and said, ‘Look, we can handle all of that in-house,’” Mullins says.
How AVaaS helps end users stay secure
AV systems can be a big target for cyber attacks precisely because that service and maintenance is often left to the end user’s IT department. Combined with an influx of technology converging on the IT network, that could spell disaster, Jacobellis says.
“Whether it’ IP phones and unified communications, AV systems, cameras or security — all these elements are ultimately converging onto the network and often falling on the shoulders of already pretty tapped out IT departments,” Jacobellis says, adding that AV-as-a-Service programs allow technology providers to manage, upgrade and update the AV system to prevent breaches.
“Part of what is included in that is not just getting the gear set up and training people on how to use the technology,” Jacobellis says. “It’s also the ongoing maintenance of it.”
With that model, providers like Onepath are responsible for the system over its lifecycle. That includes deploying firmware upgrades, AV security patches and making sure networks are vulnerability-free.
“So, by our own design, we’re well set up to take a product like a server and not only deploy the technology, but really keep it running on an ongoing basis without putting a burden on IT,” Jacobellis says.