Meetings today need to happen at the speed of business. This means users have to be able to quickly start and intuitively run meetings from any place, device, and platform. For organizations, there are many productivity and cost benefits for ensuring a conference experience that’s unfettered by cumbersome and poor-quality technology. In the quest for immediacy, however, participants can put data at risk easily and unknowingly. Typically, the job of ensuring data security has fallen to IT. Although heavy-lifters in securing the network, when it comes to safeguarding sensitive, confidential, or proprietary organizational data, the first line of defense involves everyone in the organization. In the conference room and other meeting places, there are some pragmatic steps end-users as well as integrators can take for best practices:
First, information that is exchanged during a confidential conversation, such as one around an HR issue or a company restructuring, needs to be restricted to select participants. Documents created in common applications such as such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, feature native tools that are often overlooked in providing a basic but valuable measure in security. Spreadsheets and word processing documents can be password protected while PowerPoints and similar files can be assigned permission levels for each user from the information rights management (IRM) profile.
Similar to digital right management (DRM) of the consumer world, IRM concentrates specifically on the protection of confidential or proprietary content for business purposes and helps enforce corporate policy governing the control and dissemination of that information. An IRM profile is even passed along in video and web conferencing platforms. For example, if a document is restricted to only a specific group of authorized people, the system will turn black upon transmission and prevent that it from being shared on another screens. While it’s certainly confusing when it happens, it limits content consumption from unintended audiences and puts security at the forefront.
The second area at risk is acoustical security. In most meeting spaces, it’s not uncommon for voices to leak out of the room and be heard by anyone nearby. Organizations can remedy this by adding seals around the door, or in more crucial cases, install a Yamaha sound masking system. Sound masking solutions generate sound that confuses intelligibility and prevents audio from carrying down the hall. One thing to keep in mind is that this impacts more than just the conference room environment. If sensitive information is being exchanged frequently in other areas, such as an executive office, sound masking or other acoustical barriers need to be considered here as well.
The third aspect is cloud security. Often with web conferencing, content is being streamed into cloud servers where it’s processed and resent without encryption. No matter what conferencing platform is being utilized, it is best practice for corporate IT departments and AV integrators to know the data retention policy of the server company. They should ask and know if data is encrypted once it is on the server. Typically, calls are recorded as MP3 files, which can be played by anyone with an MP3 player once they have the file. AV integrators can help customers by installing equipment that assures encryption and following up with the customer on how their web-based cloud collaboration service saves recorded data.
In addition, AV integrators can partner with IT administrators to help enforce a company’s authentication and security practice framework, which should be applied globally to wide array of technologies and applications being used in the meeting todays. Like email, videoconferencing platforms and cloud services, such as file-sharing program, should be password protected, updated regularly, and utilize with strong passwords, i.e. capital letters, numbers, and special characters. Although these passwords are a nuisance for employees to remember, they’re effective against potential hacks. The maturation of AI will be of benefit in this area by automatically monitoring passwords and providing proactive alerts for updates and potential breaches.
In this day in age, data security is vital, but everyone can contribute. Businesses and other organizations can put their best foot forward by ensuring their users are following these simple best practices globally, starting with the tools that are readily available to them and examining how information is shared through the ranks. As organizations prioritize and train users, it’ll become as second nature as locking the front door before leaving home, making it more difficult to access data without a key.