Even in an age of CCTV, personal security systems, and personalized security services, nothing quite matches the sense of safety you feel when you physically bolt a door shut behind you.
Now a British startup is trying to bring that sense of physical security to the cyber world of video conferencing.
Cloud-based, WebRTC powered video platform LyteSpark launched earlier this year with the differentiator that it offered users a “Lock and Knock” system that lets video hosts directly control who enters and leaves an online meeting.
It’s the kind of clear thinking that could lead to “why didn’t we think of that sooner” exclamations from rivals–and it could prove a cheap way for small businesses to protect themselves. But, it also remains to be seen if this approach really does a good job in patching the weak spots in video conferencing security.
Video Security from the UK
LyteSpark’s Newcastle creators are part of a growing procession of developers to benefit from the common protocol democratization of the internet that is WebRTC.
Launched earlier this year, their product acts as an all-in-one video conferencing platform targeted at small businesses, and small teams within large businesses, who want video chat to sit within their current workflow arrangements.
The WebRTC functionality of LyteSpark means it can work inside apps like Slack, be inserted directly into a company’s existing website, or be a moveable tent that sets up and collapses down whenever needed. And it works with the major WebRTC partnered web browsers Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox.
It provides all the niceties of other video platforms in its low-cost neighborhood, including live document sharing and editing, compatibility with Word and Excel, and zero add-ons or downloads that mean anyone can join anytime by following a link.
And then there’s the ‘Lock and Knock’ feature.
Lock and Knock: The Pros
In plain terms, this feature means no one can enter a LyteSpark video meeting unless the host opens the door for them. Not people directly invited, and not even people who were previously in attendance, left, and now want to return.
In a LyteSpark meeting, the host is notified of all attempts to enter a meeting, and must actively open a channel for the arrival to be able to access live audio and visuals.
It’s a bit like holding a meeting inside a secured panic room–hopefully without the paranoia.
And while it sounds simple, it might actually have been enough to foil the famed 2012 breach of an FBI video conference where hackers slipped in undetected through a link from a stolen email invitation.
As many video conference hacks are the result of hosts passively leaving themselves vulnerable–by staging a meeting outside a company firewall for instance–having a system that defaults to “closed” and must be manually opened could be a real bonus for small companies that don’t have the payroll power to employ IT experts in-house to rebuff hacking attempts.
And the LyteSpark service is competitively priced for small operators. In fact, it’s free if you need only a single license.
But what remains of concern is what happens to all that private data shared during a conference call, or recordings of the call itself, after everyone has been set free by their host.
Lock and Knock: The Cons
Locking unwanted guests out of a live video meeting protects what is said in real time during the meeting, but doesn’t shield all those shared files, notes, and recordings once they’re stored in the LyteSpark cloud.
This is the point at which hackers focus the majority of their attacks, and it should still be the primary security concern no matter how good your video conferencing platform is at locking people out of live meetings.
Some European start-ups have gone further down the road to absolute privacy, creating dedicated servers and networks that get you as close to off-the-grid as you can get.
However, these services require more IT knowledge than the average small business can bring to bear, and can get expensive.
And that leaves us wanting for an affordable middle ground where computer literacy but not mastery is all that’s needed to protect oneself or company before, during, and after a video call. LyteSpark comes close, but we’re still on the lookout for the ultimate solution.
Image Source: Flickr CC User Alan Cleaver