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Insuring against corporate data leakage when using Unified Communications applications e.g. Skype for Business

I think you would agree that Unified communication technologies are improving collaboration between workers and between organisations, so much so that it would inconceivable to have a conference call where you could not easily share documents, apps and even whiteboard. However, this doesn’t come without its own risks as nearly everyone has had an incident where they have shared a screen and forgot to switch it off. This has all kinds of data security and privacy implications, which could get you into deep trouble with your organisations and there are even instances where data leakage has resulted in corporate losses and employees losing their jobs.

Let’s delve into the story of a friend of mine and client, John (an alias of course), who is a Sales manager and does online meetings frequently as it saves him so much time while still allowing him to have that personal touch with his prospects and clients. However, he recently had a meeting where he lost valuable commercial information as a result of an online meeting. The consequences were so severe that he has now supplemented his Skype for Business solution with CoolHarbour’s Skype Sentinel. This is what happened.

Watch those notifications

John had an online meeting with a number of companies that were exploring becoming a partner. Unfortunately during the call he had notifications switched on from his email and social messaging apps, so whenever someone logged on to their social media apps or he received an email a notification popup came at the bottom of John’s screen, as a result everyone got to see the names of his clients and friends with the summary of the email including sender and subject header. Worst was yet to come.

Can they still see your data?

At the end of the call he terminated the meeting’s audio and clicked on his email inbox, thinking the meeting had now finished and not realising that he had forgotten to switch of the screen/desktop share from that call. As he was going through his emails the participants of the call were seeing all his mail and client list. John only realised when one of the participants of the meeting used his instant messaging to remind him that the call was over and that he had left his screen share on for everyone to see.

The real cost of data leakage

Six months later he found he now had competition on a dozen of his accounts whereas before he was the only supplier, after exploring further he determined that the competition included some of the participants on the call where his notifications were popping up and he had forgotten to switch off screen share. That one call now had the potential to wipe out half of his annual sales forecast.

Insurance against data leakage – your tools – your policy

John told me his story over a coffee and asked if there was any way he could mitigate against this in future. I told him he was not alone!  We have all done this in fact typically 1 in 4 people make these mistakes at some point. I have introduced him to CoolHarbour’s Skype Sentinel and his private data is now protected during online meetings.  This is what Skype Sentinel has done for John.

At the beginning of every Skype for Business meeting all participants get a customisable disclaimer banner where they are informed  that all information seen, heard or exchanged is subject to a NDA and non-compete agreement is applicable, where participants are notified of a URL to the full terms on his website. Participants’ continuation in the meeting is an acceptance of the terms. This legally covers the organiser’s information during the meeting.

During every Skype for Business meeting all his desktop notifications are blocked so that participants are not exposed to any of his data no matter how little.

Finally, whenever a call is dropped during a meeting it will warn him he is still sharing his desktop and provide an option to stop sharing within a configurable time window; the application also tracks if the presenter is sharing and at regular configurable intervals warns the presenter that their screen is being shared.

Prevent Data leakage

If your company is a user of Microsoft’s Skype for Business and you want to reduce the risk of data leakage contact us to find out more about Skype Sentinel. Email Faraz Khan (fkhan@coolharbour.com)

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