How applications like Zoom and Teams are changing the enterprise security landscape

This article by our CEO Richard McLoughlin will explore why various video conferencing solutions are not appropriate for business use, but are still great for personal use. Read on to find out more

With the rapid move to remote working and the lack of time to plan, organise and communicate collaboration technologies due to the UK rapid lockdown, many organisations, team leaders, and staff members are grabbing whatever technology they can to keep in touch and keep their projects and workloads moving throughout this difficult time. Therefore, it is quite understandable that until now security may not have been at the forefront of people’s minds.

The issue with this emergency haphazard technology approach is an inconsistent and insecure environment – growing by the day – which may result in an IT administrative and security nightmare for the organisation if we don’t acknowledge this and control it in some way.

Please see our previous article which addresses some of these considerations of everyday apps we all use, and why they are not appropriate or fit for business needs.

Personal needs and business requirements are not the same

Whist some video calling applications – such as the growing rise of Zoom – may be fantastic for a range of uses including musical and exercise groups, community choir practice, or a general social chit chat with friends and family to keep in touch. However, would we want our corporate conversations perhaps be open to eves dropping and other security risks due to a lack of end to end encryption of the communication application we are using?  Recent articles such as this one from the BBC highlight some of the security issues of Zoom ,including the exposure of user data analytics to various third parties including social media platforms.

Further, are you happy that a third party, for example, Facebook may be polling information and data about you and your users that are connecting over  Zoom video services, without your full knowledge and understanding of why and what this is being used for?

Such questions take on a different level of seriousness and importance when we are asking our own staff to use a less secure communication tool, and even more interesting questions if we invite third parties outside of the organisation to a video or voice call over these applications (think members of the public and GDPR regulations; are you happy you can adhere to a right to be forgotten requests?). 

Other environments where secure information is being exposed

A lack of management control and data security creates even more worrying questions if we are working with children over these platforms and applications.  Consider a remote education or learning environment. Also consider Social Workers and Carers working closely in a children’s safeguarding environment, perhaps looking after vulnerable children during the lockdown. The security of this information and conversations being had need to be secured, without doubt. This is no place for potential eavesdroppers to be successful, or for data mining and profiling to be passed to third party social networking platforms for targeting or sale to other organisations for other purposes.

Perhaps you have found your staff members using less secure video services for confidential matters – such as legal discussions – where network encryption in the traditional workplace would keep this confidential? Security hacks and ransomware attacks continue to rise during the remote working pandemic and many organisations have accidently improved an attacker’s success of making this easy money.

What can we and our organisations do now, is it too late?

Well the simple matter is that on person to person, social engagements you and the other parties may not be as concerned about possible security risks.  It may not even enter our minds. Thought processes such as “does anyone really care about listening or snooping on what we are watching this evening or tomorrows evening meal recipe?” are rife and we have the human psychology element to address with technology -and area where Nowcomm excels.

Enterprise-class is the only way to go!

Nowcomm wouldn’t advise an insecure relaxed approach to security and applications being used anywhere – security should always be a concern.  You may find the standard manufacturers application with your smartphone, laptop or tablet provides a robust and secure video and calling client for general social calls. But there is a need for an application with “enterprise class” security for your voice and video calls in any professional or service capacity. Leading providers such as Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams offer various tools and many of these applications come with a free trial license ranging from 30 to 90 days. 

Nowcomm are experts at providing remote working platforms for voice and video that are highly secure and resilient.  It has been a core element of our business for more than a decade.  Our skills including providing these capabilities over multiple devices.   Get the same experience, and vitally the same level of total security, whether connecting over a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop device and regardless of if this device is a corporate asset or an individual’s own device.

Dashboard information can help you

In all sectors, our conferencing and calling solutions can include central management and dashboard information, to provide useful meaningful reports on usage and how services are being adopted.  Something which is more crucial now than ever. This can ensure remote communications are managed, are productive and are being maximised during periods when team members are limited to remote and home working.

Another partner of Nowcomm is Dubber. Their voice call recording analytics tool allows us to help organisations during these extensive periods of remote working, to detect sentiments and tone in calls over time – to help with various areas. For example, currently we are seeing a surge of interest in ensuring mental wellbeing. So sentiments and ‘keywords’ such as ‘depression’ or ‘I’m feeling depressed’ in Cisco Webex voice calls, allows the detail of that call to be transcribed so early warning signs of reduced wellbeing can been aligned to staff members and appropriate support can be put in place. This can then be reported across the business as a growing / reducing statistic overtime to show impacts and improvements to wellbeing programs, for example.

Nowcomm are happy to help guide and offer our expertise to what you and your organisation may require during extended remote working requirements for all organisations.  Remember, it is important for organisations and individuals to stay secure and safe in the online world whilst we all try to reduce or physical impact on our society and our National Health Service.

Contact us to validate how your current set up stacks up to maintaining security and ease of use at [email protected]