The key to holding secure Web conferences is to counterbalance the openness of the Web conferencing platform by asserting as much control as possible over the proceedings and its attendees. As a host, you wield a lot of power over the meeting and how information is shared. Web conferencing services allow the host significant control over the meeting. As the host, you can regulate the conference by:
- Gathering registration information
- Determining who is allowed entrance to the conference
- Deciding what information will be made available to which participants
- Setting password requirements
- Expelling unwanted participants
- Ending the meeting at any time
- Terminating the application sharing session at any time
- Screening new entrants
- Locking the conference to new entrants
- Tracking information on meeting attendees
- Monitoring for security breaches
- Saving and deleting content
- Deleting information at the end of the conference
Understanding the risks involved in Web conferencing is the first step toward creating a safe Web conferencing environment. By encrypting data, ensuring that it's not persistently stored and tracking the activity of conference attendees, you can greatly minimize the possibility of security breaches.
Even if you're using an outside Web conferencing service with third-party accreditation, you shouldn't assume that this means your conference is safe. You still need to establish vigilant protocols as the host, such as passwords. You should also determine who's allowed access to information and set procedures for handling information after the meeting.
Web conferencing is still relatively young, and vendors are continuing to address security concerns. For the time being, many companies are finding that the benefits of virtual meetings -- reduced travel costs, the ability to share information -- outweigh the moderate risks of data theft. As long as a company is vigilant about security and uses a vendor with strict security measures in place, Web conferencing should be seen as a viable alternative to the traditional face-to-face meeting.
For more information about Web conferencing security and related topics, check out the links on the next page.