Sponsored: Cybersecurity in Direct-View LED Video Walls

October 27, 2020

Information management is an integral part of any military operation, and in today’s operations, technology is a common tool used to facilitate a shared understanding of intel. A growing trend for military bases is to install large format direct-view LED video walls in locations like command centers, control rooms and briefing rooms to show an integrated big picture of data feeds and video feeds critical to decision-making during the mission. As global cyber threats increase and the Department of Defense ramps up expectations for cybersecurity, the manufacturing location for any technology systems which send and receive signals is a forefront concern for equipment installations for the military and government.

Figuring out the country of origin for direct-view LED displays can be a murky business when evaluating vendors in today’s market. Many LED display manufacturers have operations facilities that perform only display assembly or repair functions, but are in fact building the components that send and receive signals in Chinese locations where the company has more extensive manufacturing capabilities. 

When evaluating technology providers, it's important to understand where the electronics are manufactured. There are two types of US-based technology providers that are important to be aware of: U.S.-based technology vendors and US-based technology manufacturers. 

Brokers: 

A distributor is a whole step removed from the actual evaluation of suppliers and manufacture of the products. They are either buying the LED display system or maybe buying the key assembly like LED modules, then they are putting it in a cabinet and assembling a system together. So, it’s difficult for them to understand what the mindset of the engineer was when they designed that LED module, or what their philosophy and approach to sourcing components was. In most cases, a distributor doesn’t have the experience or might not even know the questions to ask a manufacturer because they are a step removed.  

Companies attempt to achieve TAA/BAA compliance by adding a part or routing displays through U.S.-friendly countries to achieve compliance when in fact the product has been designed and built in foreign countries

Manufacturers: 

Manufacturers purchase components like LEDs, metal, screws and ribbons from suppliers to manufacture the product. Most manufacturers are based out of Asian countries, with China being home to a robust supply chain, and have U.S.-based service centers to give the appearance of a US-based operation. Even within the group of LED display manufacturers actually building the displays they’re selling, quality varies and many build the screen, but not the actual device sending and receiving signal—referred to as the sender box or the display interface. 

For the highest level of security, it’s important for military and government buyers to seek out display manufacturers who build their own displays and display interfaces in house and perform regular audits on their suppliers. Vendors who resell a product manufactured by another company create a great security vulnerability within devices processing sensitive information. Daktronics is the only direct-view LED and display interface manufacturer based in the United States, building our system wholly and totally in the United States, providing the most secure direct-view LED solution for military and government applications.

To learn more about how Daktronics approaches manufacturing direct-view LED displays, check out our blog post: https://blog.daktronics.com/2020/07/08/broker-vs-manufacturer-whats-the-difference/ 

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