Whether you’re in the office or at home, there’s probably one activity you do more than any other: meetings. It doesn’t matter if you’re a financial analyst, a marketing intern or head of IT security, chances are you’re in near-constant communication with your colleagues. The fact that we rely so heavily on communication doesn’t change just because many of us are now remote under social distancing guidelines. In fact, with organizations around the world scrambling to adjust to new norms under the coronavirus pandemic, communication becomes even more crucial.
The problem many companies face now is not just how communication is changing, but how to keep meetings and conversations secure when all of it is now done online via chat and videoconferencing platforms. And while concerns are high over recent news around intrusions into virtual meetings by trolls or more malicious outside attackers, there are a number of safeguards companies can take to help keep meetings as secure as possible.
Mandate Passwords for All Meetings
We use passwords to prevent unauthorized access to our phones, laptops, and apps, so why not use them to protect our meetings? Criminals are now selling videoconferencing credentials online, but even if a third party does get ahold of that information, a password will prevent them from joining the meeting. Business leaders should mandate the use of passwords for all meetings, regardless of whether it’s a formal presentation on market growth or a quick, five-minute catchup between colleagues.
It’s also a good idea to change the passwords used for meetings on a regular basis, just as you would for a password on one of your devices. Share the new password ahead of time via a secure channel with only the people who need it, and rotate it every week or so to prevent anyone getting ahold of an old password and intruding on a meeting or call.
Lock Meetings Once All Participants Join
Using passwords is not a sure-fire way to prevent unauthorized intrusions from a third party, however. As an additional step, meeting hosts should lock the meeting once all planned participants have joined. If anyone outside the meeting does try to get in, they’ll have to first request permission from the host.
Locking meetings can also be helpful for preventing other participants from joining early if you’ve scheduled back-to-back meetings and haven’t changed the password. Attendees in the next session won’t be able to join and potentially hear any sensitive information until the host has closed the current meeting and started the next one.
Limit Screen Sharing Access
Screen sharing is an important tool for collaborating when coworkers can’t be in the same space; it allows them to see and coordinate on projects virtually from any location. But, it also means we can get sometimes unintended looks at other content on a presenter’s computer. To help ensure that everything being shared is appropriate and avoid any accidental glimpses at sensitive information, meeting hosts should adjust their settings to require their permission before another participant can share their screen.
Use a Platform With Proper Compliance
While basic precautions will go a long way toward keeping virtual communications secure, it’s also important that businesses invest in a platform with the right back-end security and privacy certifications. These include standards such as SOC2 Type II certification, 256-bit TLS encryption and HTTPS firewall compatibility.
Depending on a businesses’ location and industry, they may also need to follow additional protocols. For instance, organizations operating in Europe are legally required to follow GDPR’s “right to erasure” guidelines for maintaining consumer privacy, and those in the healthcare field are held to highly strict regulations under HIPAA when dealing with patient information. If your current platform doesn’t meet these requirements, now is the time to make the switch.
Maintaining meeting security during the coronavirus presents new challenges and it will likely take some time before companies are fully adjusted to the new norm. But, by taking some simple steps now with a combination of training and enforcing new meeting practices, and investing in the right technologies to support their needs, businesses can help ensure communications remain just as secure as they would be in the office.