With Proper Set Up, Telepresence Need Not Pose Security Concern

January 25, 2012 - 2 Comments

In October, we wrote about the federal government’s move toward installing video and telepresence capabilities on mobile devices to improve communication, especially for law enforcement and defense purposes. With mobile telepresence, the government can enhance collaboration and response time during critical events.

A recent New York Times article reminds us, however, that to safely realize all of the benefits of telepresence, the government—or any organization—needs to ensure proper implementation of the video technology. Obviously, security concerns multiply when numerous mobile devices attach to a telepresence network.

The Times piece noted the vulnerabilities risked in telepresence-equipped boardrooms, and accordingly, on mobile devices, when organizations do not set up their connections behind the firewall or do not configure their technology to meet their security needs. Fortunately, the technology itself is inherently safe, with countless security measures built into the infrastructure. It becomes, then, a matter of empowering informed telepresence users to properly set up their systems.

So what should organizations like the government do? For one, adopting a solutions-based approach helps ensure security by allowing regulated video traffic to traverse the firewall only to endpoints that reside behind the firewall. Just as an agency wouldn’t connect an unprotected PC to the network, it should likewise be sure to protect any video endpoints—including mobile ones. Such a protected set-up maintains a single entry point into the network and makes telepresence easy to deploy and manage.

Government entities relying on telepresence can also protect classified information by properly configuring their telepresence networks to suit their needs. For example, agencies dealing with top-secret matters should monitor incoming calls as tightly as possible by disabling any auto-answer capabilities.

Like any technology, video and telepresence are only as secure as the networks on which they run.  The government assumes no risk in deploying telepresence, provided it deploys the technology correctly. Cisco works with other manufacturers to adhere to industry standards and develop secure, user-friendly telepresence that can ensure successful deployment and enable solely beneficial telepresence experiences.

Oh, and I always advise turning off that pesky “auto-answer” on your video endpoints – what other advice would you offer new video users?

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  1. We’ve advised our readers to ask questions, to consult and discuss their needs with their telepresence or Video Managed Services provider so they can better understand how their systems are set-up.

    We also wrote a response to the article entitled “The Videoconferencing Security Myths” and it can be found at http://blog.cbcivideo.com/ Don’t hesistate to leave us a comment!

  2. Agree, it would be a major security concern if that pesky “auto-answer” feature was to suddenly display me at 6 AM in my bathrobe on a conference call with Cisco executives.