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Videoconferencing Security

Ran across this story the other day in the New York Times.  I’m often amazed how much time people will spend trying to break the law and steal things – one can only imagine what they could accomplish if they tried to contribute something useful.

Cameras May Open Up the Board Room to Hackers

Needless to say this becomes one more item that organizations and their media teams need to worry about. Technically I think the scariest part of this is even if one’s own network is secure, partner organizations may end up sharing information about your network if theirs is not secured. There are obviously many reasons hackers would be delighted to sneak into unsecured cameras at all kinds of companies, which means there are that many reasons companies need to protect their conferencing systems. Practically speaking there are concrete steps companies can take to protect their VTC networks; as the article indicates some steps are complicated, but certainly doable.

The bigger issue I think for many managers is the convenience vs. security discussion.  Like most technology applications, the critical (i.e. C-suite) users generally want things to be quick and easy. Obviously those folks can have a technician available immediately to resolve issues and get them communicating, but I think many users don’t even want that kind of experience. Like the phone, they want to turn it on, dial out or receive a call, and proceed with their business. So how does a media manager prepare an argument in favor of tighter restrictions?

The easy part of the argument is the negative – “if we don’t do this, our most secure information could become vulnerable and cost us business/put us into litigation/embarrass us publicly.” For some that argument will be enough, and lucky you if it gets you the resources and effort you need. The harder arguments to make are the positive ones – benefits that will occur if they secure their network.

The truth is I’m hard pressed myself to come up with strong, positive arguments that will help make a sale to senior executives.  The consequences of unsecured data are pretty stark to me, and carry the most weight.  The one I can think of at the moment is the organization’s reputation – partners that do business with you will want to know you respect their privacy and data security, and it’s one more thing you can assure them about.  It’s good business practice, and it shows you understand the environment the company lives in.

I grant you that’s hardly the strongest positive argument, so let me open it up to you – what do you think is the best case you can make to an executive for securing your videoconferencing network?

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