Network Installation and Security Concerns for Broadcasting

French TV5 Monde hit by cyber attack

Last month's cyber-attack on French national television broadcaster TV5 Monde was unparalleled in its scale and scope. More importantly, however, it served to shed new light on security concerns relating to broadcasting companies and network installations. Protecting against such attacks in the future could mean the difference between broadcasters remaining on the air and terrorist groups or other hackers controlling the airwaves.

News reports out of France say that a pro-Islamic hacking group is responsible for the attack that took out 11 television channels, TV5's website, and social media outlets. It took everything in the company's power to get operations back online. So thorough was the attack that TV5 was rendered virtually useless as a broadcaster during the outage.

Cyber-attacks such as this are not directly related to network installation at the cabling level. Whether fibre-optic or copper cable is used makes no difference with these sorts of attacks. However, at the next level, where hardware and software security solutions are deployed, significant vulnerabilities still exist. Network installations moving forward have to account for these vulnerabilities.

Too Little, Too Late?

As soon as the dust settled over at TV5, the company's network security experts got right to work to fix the problems that led to the successful attack. Nevertheless, are their efforts a matter of too little, too late? As is often the case, were recommendations for better security hardware and software dismissed as being cost prohibitive or impractical? Cost and practicality are suddenly no longer issues when severe attacks are successful.

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This leads to the inevitable dichotomy faced by companies involved in network installations. How much security should be put in place when a new network is installed? What would be considered a reasonable expense for security hardware and software? Network installers must do their work within the confines of the customer's budget, knowing full well that their best efforts may prove limited in their success. As for company executives, they have the difficult task of trying to decide how much to spend and on what to spend it on. There are no easy answers for anyone.

Network Installations Will Press On

At the end of the day, network installations for broadcasters will press on. We have gone too far to turn back to the days of analogue broadcasting. We now live in a world of digital technologies wholly reliant on robust and secure networks to reach the masses with the broadcaster's message. That is good news in the sense that the network installation industry is poised for significant growth over the next several decades.

As network installations become more sophisticated, so will the cyber-attacks designed to take them down. Nonetheless, that is part of the excitement for network engineers. It is a cat and mouse game of staying one step ahead of the hackers; a game the engineers and security experts lose from time to time. However, the truth is, they win more often than not.

The combination of robust security strategies, reliable hardware, and sophisticated software stops most cyber-attacks in their tracks. We hear so few stories such as the TV5 breach because, compared to the sheer number of network installations on the planet, they are relatively rare. Our hats are off to the network engineers, security experts, and hardware and software manufacturers working hard to protect our networks.

The industry will move forward with a stronger emphasis on more proactive security solutions that can be employed with both fibre-optic and copper networks. If nothing else, we are going to make it harder for the hackers to succeed!

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