Why security scares shouldn't affect your use of video conferencing technology

Monday, September 30 2013
Why security scares shouldn't affect your use of video conferencing technology

As with every bit of hardware, many people worry about their security when it comes to video conferencing technology. Of course, recent stories have only raised fears even further.

For instance, The New York Times reports that HD Moore, a chief security officer at Rapid7, recently found that many business communications platforms have flaws in their systems, making it easy for hackers to access networks and monitor a remote meeting. Moore's job is to uncover vulnerabilities, which some plague some of the world's most prominent enterprises, including Goldman Sachs.

"The entry bar has fallen to the floor. These are literally some of the world's most important boardrooms - this is where their most critical meetings take place - and there could be silent attendees in all of them," Moore said.

This is also a problem for world governments. According to No Jitter, Der Spiegel, a German publication, has pointed out that the United Nations' video conferencing system was breached by the National Security Administration. The US agency managed to breach the data encryption to potentially watch some of the UN's video conferences.

Why this doesn't matter
On a political level, it's certainly alarming that the NSA is spying on the UN. And Moore may have found issues with some enterprises' communications systems. But, none of that matters and certainly doesn't indicate that your video conferencing software isn't sufficiently secure.

First, you have to remember that the NSA has the skills and resources to hack into almost network. Few people, if anyone at all, would be able to stop the agency from breaching any type of data.

Second, Moore was looking at a very specific type of systems. In many instances, he and the team from Rapid7 gained access to video conferencing tools in boardrooms, meaning that they could watch meetings between upper-level executives.

Obviously, that's a bit disconcerting, but technology has moved well beyond those types of collaboration software and technology. The best video conferencing platforms are entirely browser based so that they companies don't need dedicated hardware. With cutting-edge options, businesses can allow workers to conduct digital meetings from any device. As a result, hackers won't be able to target specific gadgets to listen to discussions.

Further, some communications channels allow users to decide who can access the conferences. Links can be generated for each meeting to ensure that only necessary parties can join in while hackers are kept at bay.