Teleconferencing – Have we learned from our past?

Vemun Waksvik, Business Development Manager at Synergy Sky, considers the challenges of using new tech in lockdown and the lessons we should have learned from previous technology

It’s easy to look back and laugh at the time we all papered our public Facebook walls with content that was supposed to be private. We cringe at how we (and government officials with us) shared passwords and sensitive information in e-mails and later could not understand how our accounts got compromised. You would think we had learned, but the truth is that we are in fact reliving these exact scenarios today, only this time it’s for video conferencing.

Many companies have introduced remote working measures under exceptional circumstances and without clear policies in place. Conferencing vendors such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex have been quick with the assist. While they have been throwing out business communications lifelines to millions of companies worldwide, often free of charge, users have been faced with some major challenges in regard to how their data is secured while using the conferencing tools.

But, is it right to put all the responsibility on the vendors? Was it right to blame our e-mail clients in the 90’s when our accounts – protected with our self-constructed paper padlocks of “password123” – got hacked?

Normally most of the implemented solutions companies use are enterprise grade offers. However, currently the versions being used widely are free consumer offers with best effort quality.

These solutions are ideal in situations where you need something quickly and they have been very helpful in our scramble to maintain collaboration and workflow from home. However, they tend to lack centralised control. There are no IT policies in place such as password strength, the ability to assign features to certain users or software version control.

Many of the security issues we have read about over the past few months would most likely have been avoided with more centralised control by the IT department – better passwords, unique or randomised conference ID’s, unique or randomised meeting passwords, waiting rooms or the ability to exclude anonymous joiners.

Today we know not to email our passwords or to post sensitive information on our social media. We have learned how to work the technology to our advantage and how to protect ourselves from breaches. We have also created a culture on how to behave while using these tools. Now we need to do the same for video in the workplace.

Establishing a good company culture to support the use of video conferencing is important. This can include subtle things like muting your microphone when not speaking, avoid back light and wearing appropriate clothing to reflect it’s business.

While much of this might be common sense, someone who has downloaded a free version of a web conferencing tool may not yet have the experience to realise that they should mute themselves whilst their dog is barking in the background. Putting an official policy in place for an emerging video conferencing culture could be useful to maintain efficiency and security.

At the end of the day, there is no doubt that the ability to work remotely has some major benefits. It provides a better work-life balance, lets companies recruit talent to work from all around the world and not to mention it cuts down on our travel, saving cost and our environment.
So, let your IT security team implement the policies needed so we can all move forward and utilise the amazing technology video conferencing offers, in controlled, secure environments.