Recently, more and more organizations have been transitioning to flexible working conditions for their staff, like permitting work from home or more flexible working hours. However, nobody could have predicted the impact the covid-19 pandemic would have on the way organizations structure their workforce.
What was gradually becoming a trend in employee work practices suddenly became imperative, and even less progressive businesses found themselves rethinking their staffing logistics. Most companies suddenly had to implement work from home arrangements for their staff. This change brought on immediate new challenges, chiefly maintaining regular and ongoing communications between workers and management.
Cue the video conferencing solution. The most effective way for remote workers to maintain communication and foster cohesion is by utilizing video conferencing tools.
Video transformed the way we conduct business. While firms and organizations around the globe had turned to off the shelf solutions to address the operational challenges amplified by the pandemic, many did not grasp the implications on security that this new world demanded.
Communications services present security challenges that needed to be understood. Companies must evaluate the risk factors and develop procedures to ensure their data’s safety and privacy of their corporate practices and their clients and employees.
Threats to video conferencing security can be significant when the session involves highly sensitive or confidential information. With staff working from home, there is a need for the encryption of audio and video communications.
Modern hackers pose an ongoing, potent threat to organizations and businesses around the world. What started as seemingly harmless curiosity and challenged some less socially responsible geeks has evolved into organized criminal behavior. Hackers often employ their considerable expertise to find flaws and vulnerabilities that will allow them access to conferencing services. When they encounter stringent safeguards, they simply move on to an easier target.
Common Web Meeting Attacks
What vulnerabilities do organizations need to be wary of when using their video conferencing platforms? Some of the security risks users may fall victim to include the following common scenarios.
With ‘meeting bombing,’ an uninvited guest joins the conference meeting, either just to listen in or to disrupt the meeting. They can share inappropriate media material or trick the legitimate participants into clicking on ‘malicious links’ shared via the chat, enabling the attackers to steal their credentials.
Another risk is ‘malware’ or ‘zero-day’ attacks. These are attacks on the vulnerabilities found in the conferencing software itself before the provider patched that vulnerability. Your legacy anti-virus software can’t protect against this form of intrusion. While it is impossible to avoid such attacks altogether, users can minimize their risks by keeping their software updated. It may seem logical, but not everyone takes advantage of the practice of updating to the latest version of their video conferencing App. Patches provide updated protections with new features for increased security and to fix vulnerabilities like software flaws that hackers have learned to exploit.
These are not necessarily specific to video conferencing, but the number of fake video meeting or webinar invitations has soared recently. Hackers would send what seems to be a legitimate invitation from a person you may know with a link to a malware-laden website. Following this link may expose you to a virus or a login form that will prompt you to reveal your login information and other details.
Businesses need to be extra vigilant when they share data with third parties. Most video conferencing solutions today are offered as software as a service platform. For SaaS services, user roles and permissions must be configured correctly to protect company data and limit shared file access.
Persistent Meeting Rooms
A common source of risk is the practice of reusing meeting links. These are easy targets for attackers. You can turn on notifications that warn you when someone has joined your digital conference meeting. The best practice is not to permit others to join the conference before you do by disabling the option ‘Join Before Host’. The key to preventing such intrusions lies in monitoring and restricting anyone who accesses a hosted meeting.
Protecting your Video Conference
There are many good practices that businesses and users of video conferencing software can adopt to strengthen their remote meetings’ security.
First, always ensure that your meetings are password protected. This simple precaution should be mandatory. Also, malicious parties can crash your video conference by getting hold of the meeting ID by various means. Be sure to secure the meeting details like the meeting name and organizer.
Try to avoid sharing the meeting information on public platforms. Attackers can crash unsecured video conference meetings by merely learning the meeting identification details. Sharing meeting details on social media platforms may appear convenient, but it does invite malicious activity.
The meeting host can employ ‘host controls’ that are already present in their video conferencing service. These controls help verify attendees and review their identities. Controls are especially useful where the meeting content includes confidential information. Increase your security checks by having the participants authenticate by logging in before they can join the meeting. These features allow the host to remove unwelcome participants or lock the virtual meeting room altogether to prevent disruptions or malicious activity.
Hosts can also disable auto-screen sharing for their attendees to prevent intruders from sharing offensive material or stealing credentials.
When you receive a meeting invitation, it pays to verify that it is from a known and trusted sender. Be sure to check any meeting links before clicking. Beware of malicious links, such as files with a ‘.exe’ extension. Those can be phishing attempts. Always review your video conference security settings and report any suspicious activity.
Modern hackers profiting from the unprecedented rise in video conferencing practices may use meeting rooms or chat rooms to upload malicious files unwittingly downloaded by the legitimate meeting room participants. To prevent this, the conference host needs to limit file transfer features and consider other methods for sharing files, for example, by email.
In today’s volatile business arena, the rush to make video conferencing an indispensable tool in connecting the remote workplace, security has become a critical issue. Businesses are responsible for familiarizing themselves with all the security controls and features offered by their conferencing package. Best practices provide increased protection but are not bullet-proof. Organizations must train their employees to practice safe, risk-reduction approaches when scheduling, running, or attending online meetings.