The debate between SaaS (cloud-based) and on-premises digital signage software is a long and drawn out one. On one hand, cloud-based signage software and networks are diverse and flexible and allow for instant scalability for growing networks. On the other hand, premises-based networks allow for the network operator to have complete control over the network and host all applications themselves.
As it is in most instances where cloud versus premises solutions comes up across other industries, the conversation inevitably steers toward the security question. How secure is my network and signage content in the cloud? Following my blog post called “Digital Signage in the Cloud,” which started the security conversation on LinkedIn, I connected with the LinkedIn community to get their take on the issue.
Here are a few conclusions about cloud-based security for digital signage networks:
1. The level of security of a cloud provider most likely exceeds yours. Security is the name of the game, so a reputable cloud provider is going to arm themselves with the best security measures possible to compete in the market.
“The level of security available for the cloud exceeds most in-house, on premise solutions,” said Tim Butler, director at Akeman Solutions Limited. “All data can be encrypted both ways, and as with the odd rogue breakin to unsecure digital signage sites, the most the person on site could achieve is the change of one server rather than many.”
Again, the key is to find a reputable cloud- based or SaaS provider that you can trust with your data.
“As long as the digital signage software and network architecture was designed with security as a fundamental tenet (not an afterthought), you should be fine,” said Sanjay Manandhar, Founder & CEO, Aerva Inc.
Another plus is that the security measures are usually factored into the cost of the service, whereas you would have to buy individual security services if operating an on premise solution.
“There's no reason not to [use the cloud] if you're working with a reputable host organization,” Joyce Vogt, business development manager for Digital Media, AVI-SPL. “Where appropriate, we're actively moving our clients to the cloud. It provides the greatest flexibility and offers the lowest cost of operation.”
2. You probably already trust your financial information to the cloud. How many of us use PayPal? Or any other online retailer that stores your credit card information for your next purchase? Many of us do and diligently check for an https encryption before saving any of this information. As cloud options become more popular, we’ll likely gain the kind of trust with them that we have with online applications.
“If you've ever bought anything online, used Facebook, YouTube, Google and growing number of services globally, you've used the cloud and entrusted some of your most important data to the cloud,” Manandhar said.
3. The biggest threats come from within. With reliable cloud-based security in place, security breaches can be limited to internal threats, where (hopefully) they are least likely to occur.
“How would anyone know which server (or which virtualized instance of a server) running on which physical machine my software is running on? It would have to be an inside job, but those motivated to mess with your system are unlikely to be coincidentally working for the cloud facility company,” said David Shapton, President, EMEA at Atomos.
However, aside from a few billboard hacks here and there, digital signage hasn’t yet seen the barrage of malicious activity that the web has, yet. So cloud may continue to look appealing because there hasn’t been a notable, publicized breach. In any case, prepare your network.
“Digital signage has just started and it might not be a target right now, although there were already a couple of occurrences. That does not mean it is not going to be,” said Brad Vrabete, platform architect at Intel. “Since a digital signage network is usually meant to be used for at least 3-4 years, it might be a good idea to check if your system is capable of performing encryption tasks.”
Let’s keep the conversation going – would you trust your digital signage network to the cloud? If not, what are your reasons for staying on premise?
Bill was the longtime editor of DigitalSignageToday.com, and continues to be a keen observer of the digital-out-of-home space.