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3 Risks to Web Conferences during COVID-19

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Jenna Delport
Jenna Delport
I’m a tech writer, world traveller, avocado-eater and dog lover, not always in that order.

With a rapid shift to remote work for so many South African companies, work styles have also shifted. One of the biggest changes has been how we meet. With an unprecedented number of employees working from home the use of web conferencing services has skyrocketed.

While most see this transition period as a change in how we’re working, others see it as an opportunity to exploit a time of uncertainty. According to security researchers, they have already detected “malware and phishing campaigns using COVID-themed lures, attacks against organisations that carry out research and work related to COVID-19, and fraud and disinformation.”

Here are three risks to web conferencing during the global coronavirus pandemic:

1. Screenshot Malware

One potential risk presented by web conferencing tools is screenshot malware. Many organisations made the decision quickly to require remote work for most, if not all, of their employees. And some did so without a comprehensive business continuity plan in place.

In many cases, employees were directed to work from their personal, unmanaged devices. IT departments don’t have oversight of these devices or the risks associated with them. In some cases, devices might be infected with malware that takes periodic screenshots, which are then uploaded to a remote server only accessible by the attacker.

This creates a significant risk for organisations because any information shared on-screen during the meeting can be exfiltrated. For those that are subject to industry regulations, like healthcare, finance, or government entities, the result can be significant financial penalties.

2. Accidental Screen Sharing

Additionally, many people are now using web conferencing tools for virtual get-togethers with friends and family. This also creates risk because device use for personal and business reasons gets blurred. For example, Dwight is wrapping up his work week on his BYO device by finishing a report in a virtual app that houses business-critical data.

He launches a locally installed web conferencing app to join a virtual happy hour with friends, including some who work at a competitor. But, he forgets to close his business app before joining. He shares his screen with the intention of sharing personal pictures, but he accidentally shows his business app with company data, exposing it to everyone in the meeting.

3. Web Conferencing Portal Spoofing

Another new risk is the increase of spoofing sites imitating popular web conferencing sites. While these sites look like the portals users are now accessing on a daily basis, they are designed to distribute malware to unsuspecting visitors. Researchers have discovered that some of these sites “will launch an InstallCore installer that will try to install potentially unwanted third-party applications or malicious payloads depending on the attackers’ end goals.”

While web filtering can block access to sites known to distribute malware, many of them are new. In fact, 1,700 new domains designed to spoof a popular web conferencing site have been registered since the beginning of 2020.

With COVID-19 causing a rapid shift to remote work, web conferencing services will continue to be adopted. Although virtual meeting solutions are often reliable, the risks presented by web conferencing are significant and organisations need to ensure the security of their corporate resources.

By Eric Kenney, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Citrix

Edited by Jenna Delport
Follow Jenna Delport on Twitter

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