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How to assess video endpoint security for remote workers

For remote workers, video endpoint security is a big consideration for corporate IT staffs. But the dangers might not be as big as feared.

Remote work is here to stay. While we expect a big reentry to the office once it is safe to do so, it won't be a complete return. Remote workers have proven they can stay productive by staying connected to their teams over video. While some will certainly go back to doing their jobs 9 to 5 at the office, under the new normal, many will still work at least a few days a week from home.

As a result, many workers are setting up a dedicated area of their home for video meetings, and the video endpoint hardware industry is taking notice. Vendors, including such familiar names as Logitech, Poly, Crestron and DTEN, are all heavily marketing products or bundles with "home worker" branding.

Some of these products are all-in-one devices, with monitors equipped with built-in webcams, microphones, speakers and even a minicomputer running your video software of choice. Basically, you can think of them as Zoom, Teams or other conferencing stations on your desk for video calls. Other suppliers offer standalone webcam and audio peripherals for customers who already have a PC or laptop running their video software.

Regardless of the specific product details, they are all aimed at improving the video call experience for home workers. They all offer high-quality audio and video, and they generally feature productivity boosting elements, such as noise cancellation to remove distractions. They are also designed for DIY setup and configuration as companies aren't sending IT teams to every home office in their organizations.

Yet, leaving setup and configuration to employees can lead to security concerns, especially since they are using these devices to connect to work meetings.

Assessing home video conferencing security risks

Yet, leaving setup and configuration to employees can lead to security concerns, especially since they are using these devices to connect to work meetings. IT departments manage workplace video systems to ensure they always have the latest software and security updates and are configured in a secure manner. If the IT department doesn't physically visit home offices to manage workers' video devices, is it putting the entire company network at risk?

Fortunately, the risk is not as bad as it may seem. Remember, the corporate video system is often directly connected to the internal network, which is why it is so closely monitored. An all-in-one video endpoint sitting in a home office wouldn't necessarily be connected to the office network. All it can do is make calls to the conferencing provider's cloud. It presents no more risk to the network than any other video caller. Even if the device were somehow hacked, its vulnerability would only extend to video calls. It has no other access to your company network.

Similarly, the security risk of home office peripherals is low. If the IT team has configured a connection between the company network and a home PC, that connection is secure on a Windows -- or Mac -- level. The security is not limited to a small list of peripherals; it protects the company network from anything connected to the home PC. Think about it: If there were a risk to the corporate network by plugging in a bad USB headset into a home PC, IT teams wouldn't let anyone connect anything at all.

New generation of monitoring services can help

Even if this new breed of home office video devices isn't necessarily a large security concern for the company network, it is still best practice to ensure they are properly provisioned and run the latest software at all times. After all, home workers' setups should be as secure as possible. Fortunately, vendors are selling software and services designed to ensure these video endpoint devices are safe.

Offerings such as Logitech Sync and Poly Lens provide IT teams with the same type of dashboard monitoring and management capabilities as those offered by workplace management software. This approach appears to be the obvious answer to the problem. Enable IT teams to provision and manage home office devices remotely by using the same style of management software already in use for workplace devices.

Don't let security concerns stop you from supporting remote work. The devices themselves are built with security in mind, IT teams already know how to enable home computers to connect securely to the workplace and the video industry is quickly providing tools to make it easy for IT to remotely manage home office tools. Everything is falling into place for your work-from-home future.

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