How to Protect Your Digital Signs from Being Hacked

Digital signs are eye-catching pieces of equipment that can engage anyone who comes across it. They can be used for information purposes, such as a map to a shopping centre, or they can provide your front reception with exciting media content. Many areas with a waiting room will have a digital sign displaying the news or advertising other products and services.

How to Protect Your Digital Signs from Being Hacked

Just because the screen is only being used to display images and videos, doesn’t mean that it cannot be used for something more sophisticated like overriding the company’s entire network. These are some of the major steps to take to protect digital signs from being hacked.

Identify Threats

hacker in mask

Hackers may do what they do for fun, to push propaganda, or to be malicious. Whether it’s a major organisation with thousands of offices or a small clinic, every company with digital signage is at some level of risk from hackers. A smaller company may not even think they can fall prey to being hacked because it has never happened before. It’s critical to identify who and what potential threats may be lurking. Perhaps it’s a disgruntled past employee looking to embarrass the business. Or, someone trying to show just how easy the system is to gain access to.

Whatever the case, businesses need to know what to protect themselves against by imagining every possible scenario that could play out. Those pesky teenagers that might just be having fun, could very well be looking for a way into the company’s infrastructure. If the systems are on the same network, this can be used as a backdoor into any organisation’s main system where all files and information are kept.

Cloud-Based Management Systems

Instead of loading media onto the system using a physical box, companies should look into cloud-based options that are completely offsite. With cloud-based digital signage software, the content and security can be managed from a remote location that needs to be protected over the internet. With cloud-based solutions the administrator won’t need to physically go to each display device to update content, says Kieron, content creator at AdFlux. Instead of the traditional USB drive and keyboard, cloud-based digital signage is much quicker to work with. Multiple devices and screens can be managed by one person, at one location.

Managing a cloud-based system is easier if there is restricted access on the device and the proper layers of encryption and security certificates have been installed. The only protection will be from someone gaining access online, which can be monitored better than physical security systems.

Physical Security

Digital signage often isn’t protected from a simple plug-and-play hack. It could be any random person walking by that notices an opportunity to easily switch the media displayed on the screen. It can be done by inserting a different flash drive into the USB port or unplugging the video cable. Even an autorun file can be loaded onto the system from the USB port. This will corrupt the whole system so that all that can be done is to reload and start fresh. Physical security such as a lock-up cage that surrounds all access points is important to stop these types of attacks.

Block out any unused ports and protect cables by securing them to the wall with bolts and screws. If the digital signage screen is placed in a public area, make sure to protect the BIOS with an extremely difficult password to prevent anyone from making changes from the inside. If a hacker gets this right, they can lock the company out of the system entirely. Then there will be an even bigger problem because the hacker has access to the first level of security, and can hold the information for ransom.

Application-Specific Security

Unless the screen and system come with a robust security application or the media software is heavily guarded, additional levels of security should be considered. Basic protocols like FTP and HTTP need to be avoided altogether, and SSL certificates must be installed. To add better security, include as many different protocols as possible. Think about encryption for the application as well as any data kept on the device. It could be original marketing material the company designed that may not be copyrighted. There are plenty of reasons that a hacker will try to get into the system, so protection against any number of possibilities is key.

Other security measures could be changing the signals that pass over the internet from IP to AV. Audio-visual signals use specific message targeting that can be managed both remotely and centrally. AV can be used to monitor content and administration on any digital signage system. Just keep in mind that taking this route will involve using fibre-optic cables over the standard copper types. Copper cables are regularly stolen for scrap metal, and fibre-optic is just more secure.

The technology issue is that anything digital has the potential to be hacked, and a lack of security is only asking for trouble. Security for digital signs isn’t difficult; you just need to understand what the potential threats are and to install as many protocols as you can to make hacking the system that much harder.

Check the comment section below for additional information, share what you know, or ask a question about this article by leaving a comment below. And, to quickly find answers to your questions, use our search Search engine.

Note: Some of the information in samples on this website may have been impersonated or spoofed.

Bookmark articleSave

Was this article helpful?

Comments, Questions, Answers, or Reviews

There are no comments as yet, please leave one below or revisit.

To protect your privacy, please remove sensitive or identifiable information from your comments, questions, or reviews. We will use your IP address to display your approximate location to other users when you make a post. That location is not enough to find you.

Your post will be set as anonymous because you are not signed in. An anonymous post cannot be edited or deleted, therefore, review it carefully before posting. Sign-in.

Write Your Comment, Question, Answer, or Review

Online Threat Alerts Security Tips

Pay the safest way

Credit cards are the safest way to pay for online purchases because you can dispute the charges if you never get the goods or services or if the offer was misrepresented. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if someone makes unauthorized charges to your account, and most credit card issuers will remove them completely if you report the problem promptly.

Guard your personal information

In any transaction you conduct, make sure to check with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if the seller, charity, company, or organization is credible. Be especially wary if the entity is unfamiliar to you. Always call the number found on a website’s contact information to make sure the number legitimately belongs to the entity you are dealing with.

Be careful of the information you share

Never give out your codes, passwords or personal information, unless you are sure of who you're dealing with

Know who you’re dealing with

Crooks pretending to be from companies you do business with may call or send an email, claiming they need to verify your personal information. Don’t provide your credit card or bank account number unless you are actually paying for something and know who you are sending payment to. Your social security number should not be necessary unless you are applying for credit. Be especially suspicious if someone claiming to be from a company with whom you have an account asks for information that the business already has.

Check your accounts

Regularly check your account transactions and report any suspicious or unauthorised transactions.

Don’t believe promises of easy money

If someone claims that you can earn money with little or no work, get a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit, or make money on an investment with little or no risk, it’s probably a scam. Oftentimes, offers that seem too good to be true, actually are too good to be true.

Do not open email from people you don’t know

If you are unsure whether an email you received is legitimate, try contacting the sender directly via other means. Do not click on any links in an email unless you are sure it is safe.

Think before you click

If an email or text message looks suspicious, don’t open any attachments or click on the links.

Verify urgent requests or unsolicited emails, messages or phone calls before you respond

If you receive a message or a phone call asking for immediate action and don't know the sender, it could be a phishing message.

Be careful with links and new website addresses

Malicious website addresses may appear almost identical to legitimate sites. Scammers often use a slight variation in spelling or logo to lure you. Malicious links can also come from friends whose email has unknowingly been compromised, so be careful.

Secure your personal information

Before providing any personal information, such as your date of birth, Social Security number, account numbers, and passwords, be sure the website is secure.

Stay informed on the latest cyber threats

Keep yourself up to date on current scams by visiting this website daily.

Use Strong Passwords

Strong passwords are critical to online security.

Keep your software up to date and maintain preventative software programs

Keep all of your software applications up to date on your computers and mobile devices. Install software that provides antivirus, firewall, and email filter services.

Update the operating systems on your electronic devices

Make sure your operating systems (OSs) and applications are up to date on all of your electronic devices. Older and unpatched versions of OSs and software are the target of many hacks. Read the CISA security tip on Understanding Patches and Software Updates for more information.

What if You Got Scammed?

Stop Contact With The Scammer

Hang up the phone. Do not reply to emails, messages, or letters that the scammer sends. Do not make any more payments to the scammer. Beware of additional scammers who may contact you claiming they can help you get your lost money back.

Secure Your Finances

  • Report potentially compromised bank account, credit or debit card information to your financial institution(s) immediately. They may be able to cancel or reverse fraudulent transactions.
  • Notify the three major credit bureaus. They can add a fraud alert to warn potential credit grantors that you may be a victim of identity theft. You may also want to consider placing a free security freeze on your credit report. Doing so prevents lenders and others from accessing your credit report entirely, which will prevent them from extending credit:

Check Your Computer

If your computer was accessed or otherwise affected by a scam, check to make sure that your anti-virus is up-to-date and running and that your system is free of malware and keylogging software. You may also need to seek the help of a computer repair company. Consider utilizing the Better Business Bureau’s website to find a reputable company.

Change Your Account Passwords

Update your bank, credit card, social media, and email account passwords to try to limit further unauthorized access. Make sure to choose strong passwords when changing account passwords.

Report The Scam

Reporting helps protect others. While agencies can’t always track down perpetrators of crimes against scammers, they can utilize the information gathered to record patterns of abuse which may lead to action being taken against a company or industry.

Report your issue to the following agencies based on the nature of the scam:

  • Local Law Enforcement: Consumers are encouraged to report scams to their local police department or sheriff’s office, especially if you lost money or property or had your identity compromised.
  • Federal Trade Commission: Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or use the Online Complaint Assistant to report various types of fraud, including counterfeit checks, lottery or sweepstakes scams, and more.
  • If someone is using your personal information, like your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number, to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund, report it at This federal government site will also help you create your Identity Theft Report and a personal recovery plan based on your situation. Questions can be directed to 877-ID THEFT.

How To Recognize a Phishing Scam

Scammers use email or text messages to try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could get access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Or they could sell your information to other scammers. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day — and they’re often successful.

Scammers often update their tactics to keep up with the latest news or trends, but here are some common tactics used in phishing emails or text messages:

Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. You might get an unexpected email or text message that looks like it’s from a company you know or trust, like a bank or a credit card or utility company. Or maybe it’s from an online payment website or app. The message could be from a scammer, who might

  • say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts — they haven’t
  • claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information — there isn’t
  • say you need to confirm some personal or financial information — you don’t
  • include an invoice you don’t recognize — it’s fake
  • want you to click on a link to make a payment — but the link has malware
  • say you’re eligible to register for a government refund — it’s a scam
  • offer a coupon for free stuff — it’s not real

About Online Threat Alerts (OTA)

Online Threat Alerts or OTA is an anti-cybercrime community that started in 2012. OTA alerts the public to cyber crimes and other web threats.

By alerting the public, we have prevented a lot of online users from getting scammed or becoming victims of cybercrimes.

With the ever-increasing number of people going online, it important to have a community like OTA that continuously alerts or protects those same people from cyber-criminals, scammers and hackers, who are every day finding new ways of carrying out their malicious activities.

Online users can help by reporting suspicious or malicious messages or websites to OTA. And, if they want to determine if a message or website is a threat or scam, they can use OTA's search engine to search for the website or parts of the message for information.

Help maintain Online Threat Alerts (OTA).

How to Protect Your Digital Signs from Being Hacked