Go Big the Right Way

Large-scale videoconferencing isn’t simply a matter of upscaling Skype. Running a symposium, a town hall meeting, a training session, or even a discussion panel means managing hundreds of attendees, roster of speakers, and a range of documents and media. Going big the wrong way can make you wish you stayed home, but going think the right way can show your professionalism and technological capabilities, in addition to adding much-needed value to large meetings.

Meetings Suck

One of the reasons that videoconferencing is becoming so popular is simply because meetings suck. Everyone has been in a meeting where they either play Candy Crush or practice the undergraduate art of sleeping with one’s eyes open. Likewise everyone has been on the receiving end of a large video training where it is difficult to ask questions or in a large-scale meeting session where there is little interaction with the speakers. It’s frustrating, exhausting, and somewhat demoralizing simply to be a body in the chair in a room when you could be elsewhere doing something productive. It is time to redefine meetings as productive, engaging, and vital.

Go Cloud the Right Way

Secure videoconferencing within an organization is a vital way to communicate across a wide geographic area, with a variety of workers either on campus, in the field, in different time zones or telecommuting. Going large-scale with your videoconferences takes some assistance from experienced and secure providers such as BlueJeans, which offers its cloud-based Enterprise-level Primetime service. A great deal of paranoia wrongfully surrounds the use of the public cloud when it comes to security. The natural tendency is to want to own and control the servers and systems that comprise an organization’s information technology, and to construct a private cloud network for use by the organization. A number of people point to the hacking of application development company Code Spaces in 2014.

As covered by ThreatPost, a hacker gained access to the company’s data via Amazon EC2 control panel and demanded a ransom, that ransom was not paid and the hacker then proceeded to delete all of the company’s data and backups. Whether this is a commentary on Code Spaces’ security practices or the security of the public cloud is open to question. For most people in information technology, your security is only good if you are following security protocols. Before diving in to the cloud, it’s best to have a parachute in the form of best practices for security. Let’s patch five holes in your security that can lead to disaster.

  1. Dumb passwords. Security Magazine notes a recent study where users used their own first names in the passwords, or some of the top 10 most common words included in passwords. This means hackers don’t have to work hard, but you will once your system is hacked and held for ransom – much like this Hollywood California hospital or the San Francisco BART. Institute a policy of strong passwords, and using a password manager app.
  2. Shakeout your BYOB policy. While it’s easier and more convenient for employees to use their own devices such as laptops, smart phones, and tablets for work it also poses a massive security gap. Possible risks are unsecured networks, hacker friendly passwords, and devices that are lost, stolen, or simply forgotten. Devices can also be rooted, jailbreaking, or infected with apps that piggyback malware or security risks with them. You will need to institute training programs to encourage employees to use heightened security measures on their devices, or you will have to shell out for work-only devices. While the latter option is expensive, the IT department will sleep better at night with a more homogenous range of devices.
  3. Train everyone. Now here is a use for that mass videoconference. In the first place, you can train your staff to use your videoconferencing app, and at the same time train everyone in the security measures that will help to keep your company’s data safe.
  4. Update your hardware. A number of older systems do not support encryption. Unless you want to someday shell out a large ransom in BitCoin, or see your organization’s internal emails plastered all over the media, you need to change this. And it’s not just computing devices, but also the hardware that you are using for your conferencing system such as cameras and microphones.

This list is by no means comprehensive. If you have not had a recent security consultation, you desperately need one and you needed it five minutes ago. In this part of the 21st century, for all companies, data is life. If you lose that data, and lose that security, you will lose your business’ or organization’s reputation. When you’re going big, go big the right way with comprehensive security and applications and policies in place.