Why we should not use a free conferencing tools or services for business meetings

Due to the pandemic, companies are turning into online meetings and conference calls to continue operating. I have been working remotely over 10 year remotely and have used multiple different tools. Similarly, over the years I have been advising companies adopting cloud solutions in a secure way. Our focus is to protect the company’ data and our user’s privacy.

We need to understand that consumerization of IT is a real challenge for organizations, especially the ones with a high cyber security awareness. Hundreds of free conference and video call tools and services were released only last month. And users are adopting these tools in their personal life to continue practicing social distancing. The challenge comes, when users adopt these free tools for their personal use and start using them in the business world.

There is another conversation about IT leadership and how to understand the end-users need to be able to provide the right set of tools that fulfill the operation’s needs. But I will leave that for a different blog post. The real issue here, is that users need to stop using consumer-grade solution for business operations. Privacy, Security and Compliance is a real need for businesses.

I would like to list the reason why, as a cloud security architect, I would recommend implementing enterprise solutions such as Microsoft Teams. Disclaimer, I use Microsoft Teams, but Cisco, LogMeIn, Adobe, etc. offer also robust and secure solutions.

  • Data Loss Preventions (DLP): Teams integrates with Microsoft DLP allowing the organization to monitor and control the data shared by users or guests. This will prevent users to from sharing personal identifiable information (PII), U.S. Financial data. Similarly, we can enforce HIPPA, PCI, and other standards compliance.
  • Real-time safe-links and safe attachment: By using Teams all chat conversations, collaboration and shared information is protected by advanced protection system powered by AI in real time. Links or documents are reviewed by a spam filtering.
  • Archiving and Data Retention Policies: Teams allow administration to retain data following the compliance policies.
  • E-Discovery and Legal-hold Integration, Audits: Compliance teams and auditor can always perform E-Discovery searches during a litigation.
  • Authentication integrated with Azure AD: Admin can enhance their Teams security by implementing sign-in risk policies, conditional access policies and even implementing multi-factor authentication preventing un-authorized access to service.

To summarize my recommendation for SMBs. which are the most vulnerable entities to malware and cyber-attacks, is to stop using free software immediately and start looking into solutions that will protect your data and your user’s privacy.

Microsoft Teams Tips – Sharing Content

When sharing content in Teams meetings, you control what others can see. You can decide whether you need to show your entire desktop, or just a specific window. If someone is sharing their desktop or an application, you can request the presenter to give you control.  You can decide to share your desktop, a window, a previously opened PowerPoint in Teams, a browser page or a whiteboard session.

To share your screen in a meeting, select  Share  in your meeting controls. Then, choose to present your entire desktop, a window, a PowerPoint file, or a whiteboard.

 

Share your… If you want to… Great when…
Desktop Show your entire screen, including notifications and other desktop activity You need to seamlessly share multiple windows
Window Show just one window, and no notifications or other desktop activity You only need to show one thing and want to keep the rest of your screen to yourself
PowerPoint Present a PowerPoint file others can interact with You need to share a presentation and want others to be able to move through it at their own pace
Whiteboard Collaborate with others in real time You want to sketch with others and have your notes attached to the meeting

When you’re done sharing, go to your meeting controls and select Stop sharing.

Take Control of your Teams Meeting with Meetings Options

Teams provides the meeting organizer with many options when it comes to defining the roles and permissions for online meeting participants. For example, you can choose to enable a meeting lobby, which lets the organizer define when and who is admitted into the meeting. You can also designate who can present, mute attendees, and start/stop recordings, by defining the presenters

When scheduling a meeting, you can have extra control of the meeting by clicking on the meeting options.

 

This will open a website that allows you to select the different the options. Make sure, you change the meeting options prior to starting the call.

 

Who can present?

What happens
Everyone Anyone who has access to the meeting link will join the meeting as a presenter.
People in my organization Only people in your org will be presenters. External participants will join as attendees.
Specific people Only people you choose from the list of invitees will be presenters. Everyone else will join as attendees.
Only me Only the organizer will be a presenter. All other participants will join as attendees.

A couple things to keep in mind:

  • You’ll need to send your meeting invite directly to anyone you want to select as a presenter.
  • You won’t be able to select someone from a different org as a presenter.