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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Survey finds vulnerabilities in video, online chat

A survey published Oct. 20, 2021, by collaboration security provider Theta Lake revealed that corporate leaders are struggling to restore decorum and compliance on collaboration platforms. The report, titled Modern Communications Survey Report: The Survey and Compliance Risks of Collaboration Tool Usage in Financial Services, found 83 percent of 100 executives surveyed are disabling collaboration features to protect sensitive data and maintain regulatory compliance, according to Stacey English, director of market intelligence at Theta Lake.

English asserted that collaboration tools are vitally important to industry leaders today and will continue to keep business communications flowing across digital and hybrid workplaces. “Adhering to compliance and security requirements with these new communication types, especially for financial services and other regulated industries is proving a key concern and challenge,” she said. “This report sheds light on that challenge and key areas for risk management, as well as providing a roadmap for organizations to continue scaling collaboration tools usage while meeting compliance needs.”

Devin Redmond, founder and chief executive officer at Theta Lake agreed, stating that organizations frequently bring “an email mindset” to collaboration technology. “With regard to balancing compliance with collaboration, there's no one size fits all, but producing a set of procedures, rules and expectations, coupled with technology oversight, can help monitor and enforce those norms,” he said.

Balancing conformance, collaboration

Redmond additionally noted that organizations need to monitor online meeting settings to ensure that meetings are safe and that what happens in these meetings is well monitored and understood. “Organizations need to identify their primary set of communication channels, then question if their concerns about security are impeding collaborations,” he said, noting that advanced collaboration technologies offer secure alternatives that address regulatory compliance and security requirements without disabling features on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Webex.

“Behavior risks and conduct risks can affect your organization’s overall compliance approach and if you are inadvertently sharing the wrong data, whether by accident or intentionally, you need to place holistic guardrails around compliance to create a more productive environment,” Redmond said.

Theta Lake’s analysis showed that 91 percent of financial services professionals reported using two to six collaboration tools since 2020, Redmond noted. Researchers also found the three most challenging features were file uploads and transfers, links shared on screens and within online chat and screensharing.

Maintaining safe workplaces

Theta Lake researchers cited recent guidance from the SEC, FINRA, FCA and ESMA that recommends instituting supervisory controls across Webex by Cisco, Microsoft Teams, RingCentral Office, Zoom and other collaboration platforms with technical solutions that continuously monitor what is shared, shown, spoken, typed and transferred on online activities, video, voice and chat systems.

“Something we’ve learned over the last year, as we rapidly deployed technology solutions across many global financial institutions, is to begin with manageable aspects of compliance,” Redmond said. “You can spend a lot of time designing a program but implementing a holistic program, especially for a large organization, can be challenging from the start.”

Redmond advised taking a quick approach by examining your primary set of communication channels and identifying the key things that you’re preventing yourselves from doing due to concerns about security and compliance. Address those first, and then build a framework that allows you to add procedures and technology controls. I find the key success criteria for our customers is to take that bite size approach and they can build from that very quickly, he stated. 

A full copy of the Theta Lake report is available at pages.thetalake.com/2021-modern-communications-survey-report. end of article

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