Virtual collaboration will expose enterprises to increased data security violations and compliance breaches.
Last year has impacted virtually all sectors of life, with the office becoming a major casualty of social distance procedures to stop the spread of COVID-19. As millions of workers abruptly transitioned from in-office work environments to “work from anywhere” situations, technology has been tested in new ways.
Unified video, voice, and chat collaboration tools came to the rescue this year to enabe productive information sharing and communication. It is no surprise that in the first half of 2020 alone, Cisco Webex reported a 600 percent increase in use, Zoom a 350 percent increase in their business overall, Microsoft Teams a 300 percent increase in use, and Slack a 200 percent increase. Although it is clear that use of these tools will persist as a proven, more effective and efficient way to work, what is unknown is the impact on information security and regulatory compliance. That should be a top concern for companies everywhere as we enter a new year.
Leaders will need to increase their focus on ensuring that security and compliance are part of their collaboration tool initiatives to keep their businesses running smoothly as this has largely been ignored. Entire workforces were let loose on the newest and most robust information sharing communications infrastructure ever with little training, process, and even less technology to detect and mitigate risks in what is shared, shown, said, and typed within those communications.
This means we are speeding towards all matter of new problems for companies in 2021, from information leaks to regulatory violations to lawsuits from activities that happened in a video meeting or a chat session. In other words, 2021 will be a benchmark year for security and compliance for virtual collaboration.
Here are three trends to watch this year.
Trend #1: Compliance violations will rise as organizations double their use of cloud-based video conferencing and collaboration tools
With the shift that will certainly become more permanent around hybrid, work-from-anywhere environments, collaboration tools and cloud-based applications are poised to take on even more importance in 2021. The vast majority of video users will turn on their cameras most or all of the time while at work, leading to video participants suffering from unintended incidents as their cameras capture NSFW events or controversial background scenes.
This will result in an increased number of compliance violations, and in some cases personal injury lawsuits filed against companies for bad conduct and abuse within online meetings across video, voice, and chat interactions. Additionally, sensitive, non-public, personal, and/or proprietary data will increasingly be exposed by employers, employees, and/or customers during collaboration sessions across video, voice, and chat interactions.
Trend #2: New collaboration features such as person-to-person payments will make security and compliance increasingly difficult
To keep up with demand and further differentiate themselves from competitors, collaboration platforms will add new, dynamic features at a furious pace. However, these innovations will make it more difficult to monitor and configure security options, exposing companies that use them to major risks.
With collaboration platforms and APIs consistently upgrading their technology to facilitate new activities, like sending and receiving payments, it will further increase the risky and unregulated activities on those platforms. This will force companies to increase the security and compliance of their API and integration features to avoid creating security vulnerabilities that expose companies to violations.
Trend #3: The government will step into the collaboration security conversation
Expect to see the U.S. government take an increased interest in remote-work technology. Larger players in the collaboration space such as Zoom, Teams, and Webex are going to get dragged into existing debates about privacy laws and big tech, further pressuring them to stay on top of security and compliance capabilities in order to escape further scrutiny.
At least two federal regulatory agencies will make explicit statements about regulatory obligations to retain and supervise collaboration conversations, further pushing the conversation into the spotlight. Additionally, collaboration tools will replace many call center interactions and force organizations to migrate from legacy compliance infrastructure to new solutions with actual security and compliance built for those collaboration platforms.
The rise of collaboration tools will have numerous implications on the technology and security front in 2021. There’s no doubt that the widespread integration of collaboration tools that occurred in 2020 will be a long-term shift for companies. Leaders need to be continually focused on how to promote both security and compliance while using these tools to protect their companies from the inherent risks — both known and impending.
The key to doing this successfully is incorporating a new layer in the security stack that actively manages and mitigates risk specific to collaboration communications across different collaboration vendor tools and heterogenous communications. Although the security and compliance of the growing area of collaboration tools seems like a daunting undertaking for companies, partnering with a solution that takes the burden off of them in this regard will prove beneficial into 2021 and well beyond.
Devin Redmond is the CEO of Theta Lake and a two-time founder, multi-time public company executive with over 20 years of experience delivering security and compliance technology. Redmond has helped some of the world’s leading software companies grow and innovate, including Check Point, Neoteris, Websense, and Nexgate (Acq. by PFPT). Redmond is a prolific innovator, holds two patents, and is a frequent speaker and press contributor as seen on CNN, CBS, in Forbes, and at FinTech New York. He can be found on LinkedIn.