While we have all been adjusting to working from home and the post-COVID-19 world of virtualizing every aspect of our lives, businesses around the world have been adopting video conferencing tools en masse.
This has exposed many to the threat of the unforeseen consequences of hacking. There has been a flurry of media coverage in recent weeks to a phenomenon known as “Zoombombing.”
So, what does this mean for your next virtual event?
Are we all at risk?
Usability vs. Security
ZOOM has become the market leader in online meetings in just over a half-decade.
The company accomplished this by bringing to market a meetings tool that was just plain easy to use.
Unfortunately, as adoption rates have soared during the COVID-19 crisis, this important usability function has also left the app open to bored hackers with nothing better to do with their free time.
This has forced ZOOM to make a hard pivot in the direction of security.
In a recent interview with NPR, ZOOM’s CEO stated, “When it comes to a conflict between usability and privacy and security, privacy and security [are] more important — even at the cost of multiple clicks…We’re going to transform our business to a privacy-and-security-first mentality.”
As a result, ZOOM has begun to implement features that many of us in the Virtual Event Community would consider “standard.”
Why I don’t blame ZOOM (that much anyway!)
Most of the negative coverage has come as a result of large company-wide or external stakeholder virtual events with hundreds of participants. The fact is, ZOOM is a meeting tool, not an event platform.
While ZOOM has promoted itself over the last few years as a virtual event alternative (in the guise of the ZOOM Webinar Platform), it never really stacked up with true Enterprise Webinar and Webcasting tools.
Large events have more visibility and more risk, so a simple meeting tool was never the best option.
That’s because leading enterprise-level webinar, webcast, and virtual event platforms such as those that The Streaming Network offers are built with advanced security features baked in.
- Encrypted URLs: Nobody can guess the URL to your event (without NSA level code breaking tech), whereas some meeting tools expose logical naming mechanisms, (e.g., zoom.us/company/yourname).
- Accepted User Groups: For internal or secure events, our platforms can restrict access to user groups through SAML integration or pre-approved user lists, meaning that even if someone used an NSA computer to guess your event URL, they would not be able to get into the meeting
- No Hijacking: Presenters have a unique URL and a different level of authentication, meaning that no two people can log in with the same presenter URL, and only presenters can push content or even speak during your event
- Producer Support: For important large-scale events, most of our customers will hire a producer to help manage the event. Among the producer’s many responsibilities is managing who can access the pre-conference and back end of the platform.
- Operator Assisted Audio Conference: If our customers are looking to add a dial-in option, we always use an Operator Assisted Audio Conference call, which allows us to vet every caller before they enter a call.
There is nothing special about what we are doing (well maybe a few things)
For the last 20 years, Virtual Event providers such as The Streaming Network have offered the security protocols outlined above, and more.
In late 2019, we underwent a few system upgrades to ensure better protection of personal information and new restrictions on participants to meet growing concerns around the protection of personal information.
What about day-to-day communications?
With so many businesses having their staff work from home, there is growing concern about the security of smaller day-to-day communications. Our collaboration partner, Momentum Conferencing, recently published this article on how to protect your next audio or web-conference meeting.