DOO(H)MSDAY Preparation: Best Practices on how to combat Cyber Attacks

By Julia Cramer for Billboard Insider

Published: November 1, 2022

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising – once a mechanism used by Egyptians to publicize laws and treaties on stone pillars – is now being rapidly digitized to fit the modern world. With digitization comes contemporary challenges. Similar to the Internet, digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising is not immune to digital threats such as hacking –  although it is much more uncommon.

The widespread global pandemic escalated the cybersecurity landscape. Throughout 2020, cybercriminals saw an opportunity as businesses shifted to remote work environments, with malware attacks increasing by 358% compared to 2019. Global cyber invasions advanced by 125% in 2021 and have continued to grow. Hackers have only gained momentum and confidence this year with the Russian-Ukraine war and the rise in inflation. The average weekly attacks per organization worldwide reached over 1,130 this year alone.

Cyberattacks aren’t limited solely to the Internet. The DOOH space has witnessed its share of cyber sabotage. A Zurich DOOH network was hijacked early last year. Instead of regularly scheduled ads, all Clear Channel screens displayed pornographic material, which had to be quickly taken off every screen and set up again – disrupting the workflow. And around October of last year, a North Carolina outdoor billboard company witnessed a similar incident, but on the contrary, the screens displayed Joe Biden memes.

More than ever, it is vital for DOOH platforms, media owners, and advertisers to safeguard their brands from cyber attacks. Running the risk of weak security can destroy the brand’s relationship and potentially reveal private information, damaging its reputation and negatively affecting competition. Here are some shared best practices and proactive steps businesses can take to prepare for their next cyber threat:

1. Use Strong Passwords

It may seem straightforward but having a solid password for your system accounts is the first step to protecting against cyber attacks.

  • Passwords need to be a minimum of 8 to 12 characters long
  • To ensure complexity, passwords must contain at least three different character sets (i.e., uppercase characters, lowercase characters, numbers, or symbols)
  • Passwords must be changed every 90 days or less
  • Do not reuse passwords for multiple sites
  • Do not have a master password that everyone knows
  • Never share passwords
  • Incorporate two-factor authentication

2. Staff Training Sessions

With the number of employees now working remotely, it can leave companies with a risk of network intrusions.

  • Staff must have recurring training sessions on safety policies and procedures
  • Make it required to differentiate work and personal usage and ensure employees are updating security patches
  • Teach employees how to spot and report suspicious activity (e.g., device slow down, phishing emails, unwarranted pop-ups, new extensions in the browser)
  • Disperse access rights to different team members to minimize the impact of a single security breach
  • Swiftly remove employee access when a team member leaves the company

3. Minimize Client Risk

If clients post their own creatives directly to DOOH screens, it’s safer not to give them complete access to your system.

  • Make sure to approve the client’s content before it goes live
  • Ensure brands aren’t giving out passwords to anyone outside their company

4. Limit Physical Screen Access 

Digital OOH screens are easily accessible to the public, exposing them to potential destruction. However, media owners can find methods to limit entry.

  • When dealing with digital billboards, guarantee there isn’t a ladder to gain access to the structure
  • Regularly verify camera power and connection
  • Having a seamless way to shut off power to screens in case of a cyberattack is necessary
  • Assume every lock can be cracked
  • Keep most external equipment unexposed unless it is required.


The OOH digital evolution has created enormous opportunities for advertisers to boost performance and reach their target audience segments at the best time and location. However, it has opened the advertising platform to cyberattacks. Media owners and marketers can prepare against outside threats by foreseeing security risks and incorporating best practices.  Cyber threats are becoming an entirely new industry that will progressively ascend. Is your company equipped?

Read the full story on Billboard Insider

Written By: Julia Cramer

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  • Post published:December 1, 2022
  • Post category:IN THE NEWS