Lock the doors
Digital technology has put doors and windows in television stations where there once was bedrock. The challenge for broadcast engineers is to recognize that threats to the station’s license, brand, employees, physical plant and facilities are expanding. Everyone at stations should raise their antennas and be on the lookout for potential security threats. As demonstrated by the recent KTVU incident, some security threats can bypass the strongest locks and passwords.
Locking the doors is supposed to keep the bad guys out. But as reported in the May 31, 2012, edition of the "Transition to Digital" newsletter tutorial “Dangerous Reality,” locked doors aren’t always a guarantee. Similarly, passwords are more of a filter than a guarantee, particularly if they are as obvious and easy to compromise as finding a key under a mat. If your station’s call letters or frequency is in your station’s networked equipment passwords, change the passwords.
Watchful engineers actively monitor digital devices for unauthorized attempts to log in from the outside world. They also watch and listen to what is on-air or being prepared for air. From operators to maintenance supervisors, assistants to chiefs, all engineers should be equally focused on Q/C and security. Question and investigate everything that doesn’t look right. Get everyone involved in the loop.
Sometimes, it can be revealing to question a visitor about station security. A sharp visitor might notice a weakness so obvious most people at the station won’t see it. I was once at a station with keypad access beyond the front lobby. A saleperson visiting the station to see me mentioned that he learned our lobby keypad access code in less than a minute by simply watching people punch the same numbers in as he waited. That keypad had been there for years, and nobody noticed before?