Thursday, July 12, 2012

Digital Graffitti, make sure you're protected.

-Deacon Wardlow

Taki 183, Cope2, Banksy, all are renowned names in the graffiti world. Some do it for fun, others as a form of social protest, regardless of the reason graffiti is prolific and continues to grow with the advancement of new technologies. There’s a new form of graffiti “artist” emerging. Graffiti taggers who have technical know-how.

One branch of technology which had been previously thought “immune” to graffiti was digital signage. This is rapidly changing as technology becomes more accessible. Graffiti “hackers” are finding ways to gain access to digital signage and are using the medium as they see fit. This undermines the large investment you (and your clients) have put into digital signage.

How can you shield your signage from digital graffiti attacks? Here are a few simple steps to check with a Programmable LED sign manufacturer to ensure you’re protected:

1. Is the software secured?
The software for the Programmable LED Sign should be protected either with an activation code, a physical USB key or locked-down to a specific computer with restricted access. This ensures only the people you want communicating with the sign can do so. Unfortunately, a lot of systems purchased from China use standardized software from a few manufacturers who make their software readily available for download online. These manufacturers have “serial codes” to activate the software, but the codes are useless as they list the activation code online alongside the download link. Anyone can download the software suites and then it’s a simple matter of testing the system to see which piece of software you’re using. Make sure the software you’re getting with the sign is specific to the manufacturer and secured.

2. Is the sign communication protected?
If you have a hard-wired communication line (ethernet or fiber), make sure the line is secured within the sign and conduit and can’t quickly/easily be accessed from the sign base. If you’re using wireless ethernet, make sure the SSID (Service Set IDentifier, the name your wireless radio utilizes) is suppressed (not showing on a search for wireless devices). Wireless radios should also be locked-in to only accept signals from a paired radio/device. Any openings allow someone the opportunity to “piggyback” on the signal and communicate with the display.

3. What steps has the manufacturer taken to secure the system?
Check with the manufacturer and see if they’ve had any problems with digital graffiti before. Any reputable Programmable LED sign manufacturer should be able to give you recommendations on securing your system properly against attacks.

Don’t let your LED Sign be a digital graffiti target. While some people find it amusing to see a sign messed with, neither you nor the end-user will be smiling if they wake to see Zombie warnings on their system...

*Always feel free to comment here and/or email me directly with requests at Vantage LED has white paper resources and more educational material on the website (, please check it out when you have a moment.

**Note all posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically stated.


Thiruppathy Raja said...

Hi there, awesome site. I thought the topics you posted on were very interesting. I tried to add your RSS to my feed reader and it a few. take a look at it,hopefully I can add you and follow.
digital graffiti software

Deacon said...

We're glad you like the info. The Digital Graffiti Software is cool stuff. It'd be great to see someone integrate it into a large scale digital signage installation platform in a public venue (creating spaces which promote creative artistic expression with the use of new technologies).

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