This year with COVID, the American worker is working differently –as well as shopping, being entertained, and living differently. Part of that difference very likely involves conducting meetings virtually, with video conference platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, GoTo Meeting, Blue Jeans, etc.
With these changes, the question comes to mind: Are video conference platforms safe to use for your organization? The basic answer to the question is “yes”, however, there are several caveats centered around security. But before looking at the solutions, we will break down a few of the greatest vulnerabilities the popular video conference platforms are facing:
During the coronavirus pandemic, few companies have been thrust into the limelight as suddenly as Zoom Video Communications Inc. Known for its video-conferencing software, Zoom’s stock rocketed as businesses, government agencies and educational institutions scrambled to enable employees and students to work and study remotely. Almost overnight, Zoom, which was founded back in 2011, became a household name. Indeed, it became such a phenomenon that it became part of everyday language: People would “Zoom” their colleagues; we’d talk about “Zooming”, “Zoom meetings” and “Zoom calls”. In sum, Zoom became synonymous with online video communications in a short space of time, and in 2020 almost every type of organization has needed its services.
And yet, while Zoom’s shareholders and savvy investors have reaped the benefits of the company’s meteoric rise, Zoom has also caught some concerns, such as end-to-end encryption, Zoom Bombing (the unwanted insertion of internet trolls and hackers into the conference call), and issues with the automoatically generated ID numbers and default passwords.
Luckily, Zoom is actively addressing its security concerns and has taken measures to enhance its safety for its users, such as buying a new security company .
The audio/video contents of FaceTime calls are secured by end-to-end encryption, so only the receiver and center can access them, and Apple cannot decrypt the system. However, breaches have happened, and in 2019, they had to fix an issue that was spotted where a user could set up a group FaceTime call that enabled them to see and hear a recipient without them answering the call.
Apple is known to be one of the safest companies out there. Back in 2014, Apple published a whitepaper on the security used in its various iOS services. In the section for FaceTime, the company stated that it uses the Apple Push Notification Service to establish an initial connection to the user’s registered devices and that these calls are secured by end-to-end encryption so only the receiver and sender can access them (meaning Apple cannot decrypt the system). However, security gaps have been spotted, such where a user could make a group FaceTime and see and hear the recipient before they even answer the call. Apple says they have since fixed the issue.
Skype for Business and Microsoft
One of the most popular video software is Skype, and along with their standard text and video chat, they also offer Skype for Business-an enterprise instant messaging software developed by Microsoft as part of the Microsoft Office suite. Skype for Business technology is now being replaced by Microsoft Teams, which adds chats, apps, and files altogether, enabling organizations to collaborate more efficiently.
Constant monitoring of Teams and Office 365 and ensuring there are no active issues on your network, no stale links, and maintaining security and visibility to sensitive data is the best way to ensure safety when using this platform.
Google Hangouts/Google Meet
Google Hangouts or Google Meet (or just “Meet”) belongs to Google’s enterprise video conferencing software. Similar to the video calls you can make in the consumer version of Hangout, it also allows you to use real-time captions and has as many as 250 participants.
But just how safe is Google Meet? Well, hackers have successfully hacked Android phones through the ‘Hangouts’ app and other video messages and exploited an SMS application on over 950 million users’ phones. Luckily, Google has implemented more security features- it now uses a 25-character string for meeting IDs and also restricts external participants from joining a meeting 15 minutes before it starts.
Solutions: How to Use Video Conference Platforms Safely For Business
As ever, we recommend a two-pronged approach to secure your business when using video conference platforms.
- The first step is based on awareness and education about the issues. Setting rules of practice for your employees when using video conference platforms is essential.
- You should encourage them to set passwords for Zoom meetings – even instant meetings.
- Implore them never to share passwords or meeting IDs, and, above all –
- Educate them on the risks of clicking unsolicited and suspicious links.
- Some functions, such as Waiting Rooms, allow you to screen everyone before starting the meeting. Doubled up with a strong password, this can stop unwanted intrusion into your meeting.
- As an extra precaution, you could go to settings and “disable file transfer”.
- It’s also crucial to educate employees on the dangers of public Wi-Fi when participating in a Zoom meeting.
- ZoneAlarm has outlined the issues and solutions for webcam security as well as mic security, both important security areas for employers or anyone meeting online to consider.
- While education on security risks is essential to the safety of your business, it’s arguably more important to protect your devices with the most robust security software. ZoneAlarm Extreme Security for business offers award-winning all-inclusive protection, and the package is particularly suited to protect against Zoom’s vulnerabilities. For example, Extreme Security comes with unique protections against spyware – a specific problem for Zoom meetings. Moreover, it’s worth remembering that Extreme Security offers multi-device protection, so you can rest easy if employees are participating in the Zoom meeting using Android or iOS mobile devices.
Video conferencing has become an essential tool for the modern enterprise. Indeed, even when the pandemic subsides, organizations are expected to continue trends of remote working and communications, and that means this trend is here to stay. We recommend using video conference platforms for your business, but caution that employers and employees should educate themselves on the risks of using the platforms. Moreover, every business – and individual who is conducting business at home – should have the most up-to-date security software installed on their devices. When business meetings are conducted remotely, a robust defense, such as that offered by ZoneAlarm Extreme Security, will go far in keeping your meetings, business, and shopping safely.