by David Morrison, Senior Product Manager, LifeSize
The video conferencing industry is more sophisticated than ever before: more devices are being used in more places and customers are now able to access video from endpoints in conference rooms, on personal computers and mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. But how do you keep all of these devices secure from access by unauthorized third parties? You may have read in today’s New York Times article, “Conferences via the Net Called Risky,” that some video conferencing implementations are vulnerable to hacking. This is a valuable reminder for the industry, and we believe it is a great opportunity to address potential security issues while helping our customers to get the most out of their video conferencing deployments.
In the video conferencing industry, many users believe that video conferencing is too complex to deploy, and manage securely. At LifeSize, we believe that customers of all levels of sophistication can successfully deploy and use a secure video communications system. In this blog post, I will discuss a number of things that you can do to protect your LifeSize solutions from unwanted visitors.
- Auto-answer functionality: At LifeSize, all of our solutions ship with auto-answer disabled by default. This is true for our conferencing room endpoints and our cloud-based platform, LifeSize Connections. We feel this is a best practice for secure video conferencing. Additionally, we provide other infrastructure options for even greater security deploying systems behind firewalls, like LifeSize Transit.
- Password management: LifeSize endpoints and LifeSize Connections prompt users to change their password at set-up. This is an incredibly important step and should be done immediately. Choose a unique password that is difficult for outside users to guess. Also, the password should not match other passwords you have for other technologies within the organization.
- Encryption enablement: Encryption comes standard with every LifeSize video endpoint and cloud offering available.
- On-Premise versus Infrastructure-as-a-Service: If your IT department wants to manage its own infrastructure, we offer a client-server NAT/firewall traversal solution called LifeSize Transit. This solution enables IT administrators to take control of their own endpoints and deploy them securely behind their firewalls, while still being able to freely communicate with the outside world. This solution works hand-in-hand with our encryption technology to help ensure that all video conferences are secure. However, if your company is looking for a simpler, more hands-off approach (that is less CAPEX intensive), we recommend that you take a look at our video conferencing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution, LifeSize Connections. This platform facilitates secure calling behind the firewall automatically. This option works well for companies without extensive IT resources.
- Cloud-based directory services: If you are using a cloud-based platform, ensure that there is no public directory. For example, with LifeSize Connections, you can only contact users if you have their Connections user credentials or if they are within your company’s private directory.
- Understand and utilize all of the security tools available to you: It is important that you and your IT staff truly understand the products that you are working with and that all parties have the training and knowledge needed to make informed decisions about building a secure network. Leverage all of the technology available to you, such as NAT/Firewall traversal and encryption, and periodically review your security settings to make sure they have not changed.
- Training, training and more training: The best way to
protect your company from outside attacks is to arm yourself with a deep knowledge of the systems you have deployed. End-user training is vital for the successful usage of video communications technology. It’s for this reason that we created a new online social learning platform that delivers training on LifeSize products in a series of short, engaging HD video episodes. We believe this will help administrators to gain the knowledge they need to design, deploy and manage better, and more secure video communication networks. We will be announcing additional details about this platform soon.
As always, if you are concerned about your video conferencing endpoints and want to ensure secure communications at all times, please do not hesitate to contact your LifeSize reseller or our support team for help. Both parties can answer any question you have, no matter how difficult. Our solutions are designed with users in mind and we can help you utilize your systems to their fullest potential.
Update 1/25/12: For more information on this topic, see today’s NetworkWorld article, Teleconferencing vendors defend product security features.