Can you trust your online video communications?

Written by Posted On Thursday, 17 March 2022 02:36

Well, it’s pretty clear that the virtual factor of meetings, conferences and distance learning are here to stay due to the recent global pandemic.  Where we might have hoped that the “sequestering” would be recent history, it is clear that it is not going to change anytime soon. 

When the lockdowns became persistent, the experience, tolerance and acceptance of online meetings and communication has become mainstream. As a result, both business and personal exchange has elevated phone conferences to include visual exchanges to fill the gap with a more experiential engagement.

While the forced adoption to virtual meetings hit both business and personal connection fast and hard, the platforms were not amped up to manage the almost immediate meteoric demand, nor ready to handle the soon-to-be-discovered “hiccups” in the systems as users went from thousands to millions.  

As would be expected, using a relatively “new” platform revealed caught on fast.  Zoom experienced an incredible up-tick in their user base during the COVID-19 pandemic. Between schools, businesses, and individuals just trying to stay connected with family, Zoom became one of the most popular video conferencing solutions to meet everyone’s newfound need in this new remote and socially distanced environment.

With all of this increased attention, an increase in the security issues associated with the Zoom platform became a concern as security breaches were reported in schools and business meetings that Zoom was not prepared to address.

Security issues involved with the new and popular Zoom platform exhibited the dark side in important work meetings and by shockingly hacking inappropriate images into kids’ classrooms. This “Zoom bombing” that occurs when an unwanted party joins your Zoom call and drew attention to the newfound insecurities when using Zoom. These situations required some quick adjustments, and as of November of 2021 Zoom released a new feature allowing users to report disruptive participants and allows the host to kick that user out of the meeting.

This “breach” got the attention of the FTC to reveal that users were led to believe that Zoom had  advertised “end to end” encryption to ensure privacy and security and an attempt to rebuild trust.

The Zoom encryption factor can protect items like intellectual property, personal information, spying using the user’s webcam, and embarrassing hijacking and has since been fixed. But the confidence in the Zoom platform was strongly impacted and exists yet today as a caveat to using the Zoom platform. Additional exposures were discovered and the confidence in Zoom continued to deteriorate.

Although Zoom has addressed the issues, it was clear the security issues were not addressed until after they presented themselves. What this meant was that even though all of these vulnerabilities are remediated, there are very likely others that have not been uncovered as of yet. Although Zoom has done a good job of quickly remediating and patching all of these unearthed vulnerabilities, Zoom still has some trust issues.

The Zoom lawsuit filed July 31 of 2021 in Federal District Court in Northern California alleged privacy and security issues were jeopardized from downloading Zoom’s applications. According to the court document, Zoom reached a settlement and agreed to pay $85 million despite denying the allegations and any liability.* (WCNC.com)

The Trust Factor:

So how does this breach impact future confidence?  Recently in a post-a post-meeting, Zoom was not to be considered as the platform for the meetings.  A renowned telecoms banker and founder of Lion Tree Advisors, Aryeh Boukoff who has an extensive history with AT&T chose to abandon the Zoom platform to a series of “outdoor” meetings, face-to-face and phone meetings. AT& T CEO, John Stankey called Bourkoff, and the banker and his team began to outline the next steps on the deal, including sharing information between parties, key to doing the legwork that would help craft their transactions. Throughout the process, most of the discussions took place over the phone, as opposed to Zoom.

Alternatives  that ensure safety and dependability:

With the besmirching of the ever-popular ZOOM app, there are newer options available in the marketplace offering some options that are designed with several impressive security protocols.  One example is Realty Times Meetings, a tried-and-true platform that has no app to download, avoiding another threat vector to personal security.

In addition, Realty Times Meetings (RTM) offers a conferencing system that is based on a very well-known open-source platform dating all the way back to 2007 that was predominately utilized by higher education institutions worldwide.  When the use of virtual connection was ramped up from thousands to millions of users, it positioned thousands of inspections consistently reviewing the unique code, mitigating the chances of finding an exploitable flaw with so many high-level users.

And most importantly, the RTM implementation of this system runs in a US-based data center and not on a global scale. This extra level of privacy mitigates the exposure that avoids attracting international hacking attempts on every component.   

When considering using a virtual connection, keep in mind that security is a top priority. Check out Realty Times Meetings for more information.

Sources:

www.WNCN.com
www.NPR.org

(https://www.npr.org/2021/08/01/1023468165/Zoom-agrees-to-settle-a-privacy-lawsuit-for-85-million)

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Terri Murphy

Terri Murphy, Communication engagement specialist, author, speaker, consultant, and Master Coach with Workman Success.  She is the author of 5 books, TedTalk speaker and co-radio host on KWAMtheVoice.com. Contact: TerriMurphy.com or Email: Terri@TerriMurphy.com

https://terrimurphy.com

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