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How Phone Conferencing Security Works


Securing Information after Phone Conferences
The reporters shown above hold their microphones to a speaker to record a conference call with Guantanamo Bay detainees. Reporters often record conference calls to refer back to for research purposes.
The reporters shown above hold their microphones to a speaker to record a conference call with Guantanamo Bay detainees. Reporters often record conference calls to refer back to for research purposes.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Securing information after a phone conference is as important as securing data during the call itself. Most phone conferencing services allow you to record the call. This can be activated by keypad commands or through a Web interface.­

Phone conference recordings are useful for several reasons. If someone couldn't attend the live conference, they can listen to the recording. Corporations can record earnings calls and stockholder reports as proof of compliance with federal disclosure laws. Reporters can even use conference calls to conduct interviews that can be recorded for research purposes.

There are a couple of different delivery methods for phone conference recordings. Some phone conference services allow you to keep your recording on their system for a certain amount of time, perhaps 120 days. Anyone with the original access code or PIN can dial into the system, enter their codes and listen to the conference recording.

Other phone conferencing services can mail hard copies or e-mail digital copies of the conference recording directly to the moderator and other participants. Digital copies typically arrive as a WAV or MP3 audio file. For an extra fee, it's also possible to receive a written transcription of the phone conference.

As with phone conference security in general, the key to securing information after a phone conference is access control. By keeping a recording on the phone conferencing system, it's still protected by access codes and individual PINs. Once a digital recording or hard copy of the phone conference is distributed, it's harder to control who has access to it.

For highly sensitive phone conferences, it's also recommended that all notes and preparatory materials for the meeting be shredded once the conference is over [source: allconferencing].

The future of phone conferencing is Voice over IP telephony (VoIP). VoIP is cheaper than conventional phone conferencing for both large and organizations, but it presents a host of new security concerns.

Conventional phone conferencing transmits data over phone lines using the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). To intercept that data, someone would have to have physical access to the phone line or the company's Private Branch Exchange (PBX), a telephone exchange that serves only one business [source: National Institute of Standards and Technology].

With VoIP, voice data travels in packets over the Internet, passing through dozens of insecure routers along the way [source: National Institute of Standards and Technology]. For this reason, VoIP data needs to be encrypted like any other sensitive data on the Web (passwords, credit card numbers, etc.) and filtered by special firewalls. The challenge with securing IP phone conferences is to not slow down the transfer of packets so much that it affects the quality of the call.

For more information about phone conferencing security and related topics, check out the links on the next page.