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Hacking news: why virtual teams need better video conferencing security

Businesses have never been so reliant on ensuring safe, reliable communication between mobile teams. With the current coronavirus pandemic, it is all the more critical to maintain contact and work together—without actually being together.

Virtual teams must now implement collaboration strategy that includes one key element: secure video conferencing. Employees and management alike are sequestered away from traditional office environments, with many working from home or in offices occupied by very few employees.

Challenges of Video Conferencing Security

Video conferencing is now enabling companies of all industries and sizes to keep in touch on important topics that were previously conducted face-to-face:

  • Project planning and progress status
  • Marketing strategy
  • Financial reviews
  • Public relations and media presentations

Access to these meetings by unauthorized participants or competitors can reveal information that should not be publicized, even providing insight to trade secrets or other sensitive information. FBI investigators are tracking multiple occurrences of such incidents.

Many academic institutions have turned to online teaching and seminars through the use of video conferencing, often with large audiences that could reach hundreds of students. Global mandates to shelter at home make this even more essential as an effective approach to reaching virtual student bodies. Attacks by cybercriminals or nuisance hackers can cause disruptions forcing sessions to be canceled or rescheduled.

Vulnerability of Video Conferencing

Even some of the most popular tools and services in use for video conferencing have fallen victim to hacking attacks.

Users of the Zoom video conferencing application have even given such hacks a name: “Zoom bombing.” With the system’s ease of access, some internet users simply troll the web searching for Zoom meetings, then listen in, record, or simply disrupt the meeting with foul language or inappropriate images.

With meetings unknowingly recorded, content could be leveraged for espionage purposes or even provided to the media to damage the corporate image of presenters or to release confidential information.

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize exposure to video conferencing hackers.

How to Prevent Video Conferencing Hacks

Blocking uninvited guests from disrupting or eavesdropping on video conferences may not be foolproof. However, there are several precautions and policies that will greatly reduce the potential for hacking important or confidential meetings:

  • Ensure network security is considered by all attendees. Discourage or prohibit access over unsecure access points such as public or open WiFi networks.
  • Unless public access is specifically desired, distribute links to the meeting via secure channels such as emailing them directly to participants. Hackers can troll social media sites looking for sessions such as Zoom meeting links.
  • Specify a setting of “private” for your virtual meetings and require a password for entry. Some may consider the need for a password an annoyance, but it certainly is preferable over uninvited guests.
  • Limit access to video sharing. If no screen viewing is needed other than a presenter, such as when conducting training or a webinar, restrict video sharing to only that participant. This feature is available across most platforms will prevent disturbances from unruly guests.
  • Unless you want your meeting to get started even if you’re running late, look for the option to turn off disallow guests from joining before the host. This prevents unwanted participants or hackers from hijacking your meeting, as it can’t start until the host is active on the session.
  • If you want to control the guest list, look for a feature like Zoom’s “waiting room.” This lets the host view the participants in the waiting room as they enter the meeting, and lets you grant access for each individual. That’s real screening control, but perhaps not practical for larger meetings.
  • Never publicly share or broadcast meeting IDs or attendance links, as it makes attacking future meetings that much more likely. Using the option for scheduled meetings with a single-use identification is more secure.
  • Consider the tools and platforms being used for your video conference. Services like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet (or Hangouts) and others offer a wide variety of security features and functionality. Take time to determine what tool is right for your virtual meeting.

Being popular is a double-edged sword. Gathering a large volume of users contributes to the success of a product, but also attracts more hackers and eavesdroppers. If you’re interested in a secure video conferencing solution for your business, we’re offering free, no obligation consultations.

What Lies Ahead for Video Conferencing?

Video conferencing was already expanding in features and popularity with today’s mobile workforce, online education, and webinars. Face-to-face capabilities allow teams to collaborate more effectively and enable more personal contact between sales teams and customers.

Recent pandemic conditions have only emphasized the benefits of video conferencing and the use of various video services and applications to keep teams in touch as they work from home.

With secure video conferencing, financial presentations, marketing strategies, and technical projects can be viewed by all parties in real-time. This saves expense on travel by bringing teams closer together virtually.

Video conferencing is expected to grow to a market of nearly $4.5 billion by 2023, driven by positive value:

  • Continuing improvements in ease of use
  • Better communication with teams and clients
  • Growth in popularity of consumer apps—such as FaceTime—drives workers to prefer visual interaction in the workplace
  • Improved video quality

Providing Secure Video Conferencing

There are steps businesses, educators, and government agencies can take to optimize security in video conferencing systems:

  • Training: Be aware of all available privacy settings contained in video conferencing applications. Many hacks succeed because the users of the system did not utilize the most effective security settings, or they were not aware of the options and vulnerabilities.
  • Providers: When selecting a video conferencing service, consult with an experienced provider who not only knows the pros and cons of available applications but also understands how to keep your conferences private and secure.

CDS Office Technologies offers complete video conferencing solutions to our many satisfied customers. Contact CDS today to get started with reliable, secure video conferencing.

CDS is offering FREE CONSULTATIONS to businesses looking to implement a telecommute/work from home solution.
Contact us for info or read more in our blog.