By Jessica Day
The business world has had little choice but to pivot rapidly in recent years. Even the most agile companies have had to race to maintain the pace of change dictated by global disruption. The shift to remote work has led to numerous issues, not least of which is needing to know more about the most vital technologies.
The business meeting is as necessary as ever, if not more so. Luckily, the widespread adoption of some fantastic video conferencing platforms has proven extremely beneficial. However, there remain several risks to using even the best video conferencing tools.
Collaboration is one of the primary drivers of workplace productivity and efficiency. The problem for business owners, team leaders, and managers is that it’s easy to overlook security concerns in an online collaborative space.
When it comes to staying safe and secure while managing and participating in video conferences, here are the nine best practices that every business needs to pay attention to.
1. Choose the right communication tool
Do you need a dedicated video conferencing tool? After all, it’s easy enough to run a video conference using nothing but your smartphone and unlimited data plan. That’s certainly an option, but it’s a dangerous one.
Using an internet-based VoIP phone system is considerably safer and more technically proficient. There are plenty to choose from, but you do need to be careful not to use the first one that looks appealing. Research each option, and select a video conferencing tool that uses some form of encryption.
Ideally, you want your video conferencing tool to offer end-to-end encryption. This will scramble your communications so only participants in the meeting can read and see what’s happening. Encryption is vital if you want to enjoy more secure video conferencing.
Stay far away from consumer-level video conferencing software or platforms. Look for an option that’s been designed for business for a safer experience.
2. Use the waiting room
To control exactly who can enter the online meeting, only one person should be able to grant access. That person is the meeting leader, and they will (in most cases) be the organizer of the event.
Once invites have been sent to all intended participants, it’s vital the meeting leader makes use of the waiting room function. This prevents participants from entering the meeting until they begin the session. It also gives attendees the chance to fix any technical issues that might disrupt the meeting, such as a member of the team who doesn’t know how to fix echo on mic problems.
This is an effective security step because it gives greater control over who can access the online event. Any uninvited guests can be seen waiting to enter and easily be blocked. The waiting room is one of the first lines of defense against unknown attendees and should be considered an essential component of any video conference.
3. Use unique meeting IDs
Meeting IDs are useful when it comes to boosting security in video conferences. The problem is that even the most security-savvy leader can fall into the trap of reusing the same ID for every meeting. This can cause a number of issues.
From hackers using brute force tactics to disgruntled former employees, reusing the same meeting ID is a risk that’s not worth taking. Make sure everyone responsible for setting up a video conference has been trained on how to generate a new ID for each meeting.
Even then, risks remain. If your company uses an exposed chatroom to discuss work, that chatroom is a potential weak spot in your security defenses. This is more common than you might think, especially as brands tackle much-needed moves from an agile to matrix setup.
Anyone present in your communication channels, even those that shouldn’t be, will have access to all communications. That includes newly generated meeting IDs. So, share passwords and meeting ID info carefully and keep an eye on who has access to this.
4. Only use essential features
Depending on the video conferencing tool you use, you’ll have access to a sometimes bewildering number of features. The fact is that many of these are unnecessary and may even expose you to security risks.
Does your video conferencing tool allow you to turn off the video function if it’s not needed? Do you need chat to be enabled in every meeting? Many video conferencing resources allow you to mute all meeting participants as soon as they log in. This simple change to your settings can be extremely useful if the meeting involves sensitive information.
Go through your settings and disable any features you think are unnecessary. These can be changed as the need arises. However, make sure disabling certain features isn’t going to affect the data protection that helps maintain compliance.
5. Embrace the importance of the virtual background
Far too many people consider the use of a virtual background as nothing more than an opportunity to have fun. They’ll use amusing backgrounds and think that’s the only real value to what is, in reality, a vital security tool.
Whether you’re hosting an online webinar with hundreds of participants or having a one-on-one meeting with a member of your immediate team, virtual backgrounds are security essentials. If you’re working from home, that virtual background will protect your personal privacy, while also avoiding participant distraction if something happens behind you.
If you’re hosting or attending a video conference while in the workplace, those virtual backgrounds ensure other participants can’t see anything they shouldn’t be able to. Never overlook the need for a virtual background (that doesn’t mean you can’t use a fun one).
6. Realize screen sharing is not for everyone
Whichever conference call service you use, you’ll have the option to enable screen sharing for participants. What’s often overlooked is the security concerns surrounding that function. While screen sharing is an essential part of many meetings, not everyone needs to be able to share what they’re doing.
The host of the meeting should ensure that only those that need it have screen sharing enabled. You’ll likely need to go into your settings, as many video conferencing applications allow screen sharing by default.
This is important because should someone without authorization gain access to your conference, they’ll be able to take over the meeting. Not only is this dangerous from any perspective but even at a base level, it can cause unnecessary disruption.
7. Make an informed decision: to record or not to record?
Being able to record your meetings is of obvious importance. Those recordings allow team members to catch up if they weren’t able to attend the live session or can be used as a bulletin or transcription for wider company use.
However, there are risks to recording a video conference. The first step to staying more secure is to ensure every participant in the meeting is alerted beforehand that the session will be recorded. This ensures everyone remains professional, even if the meeting is informal.
The second consideration is where and how your recording is stored. Those recordings will need to be protected so access isn’t open to the whole world. Any sensitive information shared in the meeting will need to be stored securely, preferably in a format that allows for encryption.
8. Use meeting locks
You’ve sent out your unique ID invites and everyone has shown up on time and ready to work. The temptation is to start the meeting immediately, but before you get going, take the time to lock the meeting. This will make it much harder for cybercriminals or possible threat actors to gain access to your video conference.
Anyone that does try to brute force their way into your meeting will find it almost impossible if it’s locked. Should any legitimate members of the team need to join after locking it, this is easily done with most video conferencing tools. It usually takes no more than a generated link.
This is one of the most important steps that business leaders are prone to missing. While leading in such a disruptive age has its challenges and can be overwhelming, the need for a locked and secure meeting place is vital.
9. Remember the basics
Most tech-savvy workplaces will already have some form of online safety training. This is a core component of modern business management. Weak security practices can expose an entire organization to those with ill intent.
Reports suggest 91 percent of all cyberattacks begin with a phishing attack. If your team hasn’t been trained to recognize such attacks, especially the newest spear-phishing strategies, then your organization is at risk.
From password management to ensuring all software is updated as and when needed, managing the basics has never been more important. As businesses lean further and further into a digital and online environment, there are more opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities. Remember the basics, and your video conferencing will be much safer and more secure.
Security is essential for video conferencing
Online meetings have proven their value in the last couple of years. However, they do greatly increase the number of online threats you’re exposed to. Cybercriminals and anybody with malice in mind will always be on the lookout for exploitable vulnerabilities.
If you want to keep your video conferences safe and secure, always have a focus on the best security practices. In doing so, you keep your business and employees safe from risks. That means you can get down to work without the worry of exposure to dangers and outside threats.
About the Author
Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. Here is her LinkedIn.