Hackers provide vital advice on home-working vulnerabilities

by Chris Fairbairn

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

Free webinar breaks down risks from conference call software

Insider threat warning tech pr

A TEAM of Scottish ethical hackers are urging home-workers to be extra cautious when using video-conferencing software.

A trio of ethical hackers from the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) are coming together to help businesses avoid damaging pitfalls resulting from the unique working environment created by the COVID-19 response.

They will run through the latest scams, attacks and best-practices on a dedicated webinar on Wednesday (15 April), “The Do’s and Dont’s of Video Conferencing”.

It is the latest in the SBRC’s popular series designed to bring expert advice and access to businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees will also receive instant feedback on issues they’d like to raise.

Declan Doyle, is one of the centre’s ethical hacking students. He’ll be joined by fellow hackers, Jess Amery and Moe Kier, with Chief Executive Jude McCorry chairing the discussion.

He said: “Video conferencing software has boomed since the start of the pandemic response, so it is little surprise it is coming under increased scrutiny now – and rightly so. No software is perfect – and despite the scare-stories most can be used safely with a little know-how and some common-sense.

“Zoom and Houseparty in particular have come in for criticism. Thankfully that has meant they are focusing intently on improving security and making adaptations. They know that their reputations will be defined by this. That said, it still pays to know the pros and cons of the various software out there.”

Over the last few weeks, a range of stories have highlighted alleged weaknesses in video conferencing software, with evidence also emerging of criminals “bombing” into conversations to listen in to confidential conversations.

Some platforms have also been criticised for a lack of “end-to-end encryption” – which if in place would prevent a third-party being able to “decrypt” or understand conversations while others have been challenged for passing on data to advertisers.

Declan recommends that users of video conferencing look closely at settings. For instance, Zoom – which has emerged as the leading brand – can enable users to require passwords to join from a link – as well as approving who enters and leaves a call.

Despite all this, he believes the biggest risks don’t stem directly from video conferencing software and their vulnerabilities, rather user carelessness.

He added: “It is vital that businesses get video conferencing right. However there are a myriad of potential ways an unscrupulous individual would look to exploit the current situation.

“We shouldn’t ever be despondent however, as there is a huge amount we can all do to protect our systems and our businesses.

“Firstly, we must be more vigilant and cynical than ever before. Be aware that there are more email scams out there casting a net and looking for people to fall for them.

“If we’re working from home we must also make sure that we are keeping our devices updated. New software updates are how we keep ahead of most vulnerabilities.”

Like previous webinars in the series, Thursday’s will see SBRC draw on its widespread expertise alongside leading industry names, to provide guidance to business owners concerned about the wide-ranging implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jude McCorry, Chief Executive of the SBRC, said: “This is a hot topic and it can be difficult to distinguish between scaremongering and genuine threats to you and your work.

“Having three of Scotland’s sharpest young minds in ethical hacking analyse the subject will give attendees the best chance of navigating this treacherous time sensibly and safely.”

During its first week, the SBRC provided advice to more than 600 business people across areas from cyber security to the legal implications of COVID-19. So far the dedicated webinars have been viewed by more than 1250 individuals.

To register for the session on please register here, or by pasting this link into your browser: https://bit.ly/2XzeFaO

To watch previous webinars, please visit: https://www.sbrcentre.co.uk/news/

The SBRC is a non-profit organisation which exists to support and help protect Scottish Businesses.

To ensure Scotland remains a safe place to live, work and do business, SBRC will be regularly sharing COVID-19 developments and advice from Scottish Government, its partners and members as they happen.

SBRC maintains a unique connection to Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Scottish Government, which gives the organisation exclusive access to the latest information to advise citizens and businesses how to interact safely.

Employers can also reach SBRC by emailing enquiries@sbrcentre.co.uk.

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Chris Fairbairn of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

Chris Fairbairn

Chris Fairbairn is an Account Director with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood PR. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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