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Telepresence Security

Many telepresence studios are proprietary, installed-site systems with hardware-centric security methods that require manual resets and labor-intensive maintenance. Nefsis uses SSL/TLS encryption and public key infrastructure, same as online banking. Secure https connections are automatically maintained and easily verified. There is no need to delay piloting a telepresence or HD video conferencing system, but it’s a good idea to select one such as Nefsis that uses well known, industry-standard secure conferencing methods.

Introduction

Organizations that go to the expense and trouble of installing purpose-built telepresence rooms are using them for important, business-critical discussions, not for everyday chatter. The sensitive nature of these conversations begs the issue of video conference security in general, and telepresence security in particular.

For any standalone video conferencing system — including telepresence — security depends on whether the equipment is installed correctly, and whether the installation is properly maintained over time. Web-based online services, conversely, enforce the same industry-standard security practices for video conferencing as for e-commerce and online banking. This includes the use of signed, third-party certificates and public key infrastructure (PKI). This makes a big difference for IT staff, who get enterprise-grade security for their video conferences without having to learn, install and maintain proprietary or hardware-centric methods manually.

In this regard, online services are arguably more secure than standalone installations and custom telepresence installations.

Telepresence Systems

Telepresence systems are famously suited to customization, and an industry of telepresence equipment integrators has arisen to provide unique, standalone installations.

Because these are not plug-and-play products, it is necessary to configure telepresence security settings at installation and manage them over time. IT staff are the most likely candidates for the job, but the products are usually specialized enough to require outside expertise.

In a typical installation telepresence and installed-site video conferencing products use Multipoint Control Units (MCU) built-in at each endpoint. Larger installations have dedicated, stand-alone MCUs. Most ongoing maintenance is done manually because it involves hardware and configuration settings across all video end-points and MCUs and cannot be automated. Updating MCUs for enhancements and feature changes, for example, often involves their complete replacement. Encryption keys are managed manually, and if compromised, require a new set of keys, re-installation, and hardware resets.

Establishing secure connections with external parties can often become difficult, resulting in heat-of-the-moment decisions to disable security and send conference data in the clear.

Online services and security

Nefsis automatically maintains industry-standard SSL/TLS security.

Online services such as Nefsis use industry-standard SSL/TLS-encrypted connections with third-party signed certificates — the same standardized security used by hospitals, banks, and e-commerce sites for secure transmittal of credit cards, patient information, and passwords.

This level of ready-made security manifests itself in ways as conspicuous as URLs beginning with https:// and padlock icons in the browser.

Nefsis conference attendees initiate connections to conference servers by going out their firewall; Nefsis does not attempt any inbound connections so firewall and proxy traversal is accomplished within prevalent IT security policies.

It should be noted Nefsis will not allow a non-encrypted connection. It will drop out of a connection negotiation process if an encrypted link cannot be established.

Online services enforce and maintain security as part of their Web-based nature. In addition, anyone, not just contractors and IT staff, can verify a secure connection was established at anytime.

When evaluating online services and cloud-based solutions that use SSL/TLS encryption, it’s important to confirm that they use third-party, signed certificates (Nefsis uses Verisign) and PKI.

Conclusion

For standalone video conferencing and telepresence security, integrity depends on proper installation and labor-intensive maintenance across multiple components. Successfully connecting to external parties can be a challenge, often to the point of disabling security. On the other hand, online services such as Nefsis automatically maintain and enforce industry-standard security across employee-only and inter-company connections. In these respects HD video conferencing online services are easier to manage and more secure than customized telepresence products.

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Live Demo and Security Q&A

You can schedule a live demonstration to see Nefsis in a real-world setting — your office — over the web. With adequate bandwidth, multipoint HD video conferencing is possible without compromise. Otherwise, Nefsis scalable video adapts image quality as needed. During the demo we can explore any of the telepresence security topics mentioned above. You can also contact us and take a free trial right now.