AV Network Nation Panel Addresses Networked Audio Security

AV Network Nation panel on Securing Your Networked Audio
(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to transporting AV signals over the network, it’s audio that’s been leading the way. But with this pervasive deployment of networked audio comes concerns of security. This was the subject of the AV Network Nation panel “Securing Your Networked Audio,” which tackled the many ways systems can become exposed, and what you can do to keep them locked down. 

Moderated by AVNation’s Tim Albright, panelists included Bradford Benn of Advisist Group, Bob Ehlers of Audinate, Rebecca Sullins of Pro Media Audio Video, and Ronald Rousseau of Shure.

The panelists agreed that the biggest hurdle to overcome in a secure system is the users. “The first thing is being able to have an educated user and support base that knows about network management from top to bottom,” said Audinate’ Ehlers. “It doesn’t do any good for us to talk to people about security when they don’t really understand what good security hygiene is.” 

Watch a Recording of "Securing Your Networked Audio"

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(Image credit: Future)

This panel and all the others that took place during AV Network Nation are available on demand. Visit avnetworknation.vfairs.com and log in to watch recorded discussions. 

While you're there, don't forget to visit the exhibit hall to see what technologies our sponsors have on display. 

The AV Network Nation Virtual Exhibition will be live until Jan. 7.

Benn agreed: “The first thing I would say is that security starts with the user. It’s way before any of these layers that get put on top of it; that’s the good hygiene. If everyone has the same password, if everyone has the same login name, your security is pretty broken.”

Human error extends to the person setting up the tech, as well. “Be aware of everything you’re putting on the network and how it can be accessed,” said Sullins. “And that even gets down as far as buildings that don’t allow wireless microphones, because that audio can be intercepted. It starts with understanding the level of physical securities for the design before you even get into encryption certificates, passwords, and the like.”

Beyond user training, it’s also key for integrators and tech managers to have a better understanding of the technology. “I think we need to have certification training around network administration and security,” Ehlers said. “There is a level of base understanding that everyone should have and we [Audinate] try to impart that in the training that we do.”

“We really care about education,” Shure’s Rousseau echoed, urging AV techs to reach out to vendors to inquire about their educational offerings. “You’d be surprised the quality of training they have,” he said. “And it’s from people who either developed the product or product managers, so those people can not only tell you how it works, but why we’ve decided to make it work that way.”

Benn argued that the best kind of understanding is higher level: “Learn the concepts, not the commands,” he said. “I do not know how to configure a Cisco switch, an HP switch, or a Netgear switch; however, I know to tell people ‘I need to go in and set up quality of service, we need advanced encryption standards.’ I made sure I understood what the acronyms meant and how they were being used.”

In addition to a lot of discussion over acronyms, other topics included balancing the tradeoffs between security and ease of use, and using Wireshark to understand network traffic. 

“One thing I stress is that this doesn’t have to be difficult,” Benn said. “If we start talking with the IT partners and working with them, we can solve a lot of these issues.”

All of the AV Network Nation content—including the exhibit hall—is available on demand for the next four weeks. To learn more, visit avnetworknation.com.

Matt Pruznick

Matt Pruznick is the former editor of AV Technology, and senior editor for Systems Contractor News and Residential Systems. He is based in New York.