By Amit Walia, EVP Managing Partner at Compodium

The recent pandemic has fundamentally changed the way most businesses around the world operate.  Home working has taken off in a way that would have been unimaginable just this time last year and thanks to technology, we’re as productive in our own homes as we are in a traditional office environment.  There’s no question as to the significance that video conferencing has played here.  While not a new technology, video conferencing has boomed in recent months, with Global Market Insights predicting the video conferencing market alone will reach a valuation of $50bn by 2026.

However, with this growth has come the realisation by many businesses that there is a greater need for protecting the sensitive, confidential and valuable data contained in video conversations.  This is particularly so for banking and financial services organisations, where the issue of video security is more important than ever. 

Video conferencing security is vital in the ‘new normal’

As we move beyond the more restrictive lockdown period, many businesses are increasingly moving a limited number of employees back into physical office environments.  However, with the potential for a second wave and further national lockdowns ever present, it seems clear that remote working is here to stay.  While some organisations, such as Barclays, are looking to re-establish on-site operations as quickly as possible, others will remain – at least in some large part – remote.  Financial services organisations need to prepare for a new normal – one that caters for remote business opportunities just as effectively as those taking place face-to-face.  

There can be no doubt that video is now solidified as the primary method of remote communication.  Whether it’s a family catch up or a blue chip board meeting, wherever a physical meeting is not possible, or practical, video conferencing is now a comfortable alterative for most people.  But with more people on video than ever before, the usage surge has also brought increased security concerns.  For example, incidents of Zoom-bombing – when strangers intrude on others’ Zoom meetings – have been widely reported.  In a recent high-profile case, pranksters Zoombombed the court hearing of a man accused of July’s Twitter hack.  In a commercial setting, this activity has the potential threaten the integrity and security of confidential business information.

End-to-end encryption

Video conferencing security is now an important consideration – both for businesses operating in highly regulated industries like financial services, as well as individuals prioritising privacy.  Zoom’s recent announcement that it will backtrack on previous refusals to provide end-to-end encryption to free users of the service is a major victory for the activists and civil liberties organisations campaigning for privacy and digital protection.

Data transmission is one of the most vulnerable areas of video communication and ensuring a comprehensive level of security is paramount for those taking part in digital conversations – whether that’s a personal conversation, or in a commercial environment.  During a video conversation, data travels over multiple networks – both public and private – and end-to-end encryption is the foundation of protecting this data in transit.

Authentication: going beyond security

In finance, end-to-end encryption is not enough – in fact, it’s expected.  Finance is a high-risk, high-reward industry that requires rapid decision making and constant information exchange – all while building and maintaining crucial client relationships.  Video conferencing technology has offered a lifeline for many finance organisations focused on maintaining productivity.  However, in many organisations, security and compliance considerations as an afterthought.  Video conversations contain highly sensitive and confidential information – they must meet the same levels of security, privacy and confidentiality as in-person conversations.  In these environments, security breaches and financial fraud can lead to significant regulatory, financial and reputational damage.

Financial services organisations are the backbone of the global economy and during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have the challenge of quickly delivering seamless virtual connectivity.  Under unprecedented pressure to roll out new technology, it can be easy to overlook the more fundamental requirements, in favour of rolling out new services and capabilities at speed.  New technology should not come at the cost of privacy and security.

End-to-end encryption – which is vital for privacy and security and will now soon be available via even the most basic video conferencing solutions – is not enough to meet the high standards required in financial services.  Instead, authentication is the key to ensuring the growing adoption of video conferencing in this industry meets the same high standards delivered to clients in-person.

Authentication provides a double layer of trust, ensuring both advisors and clients can be confident that they are speaking to the right person within an entirely confidential virtual space.  Only by ensuring video conversations are both end-to-end encrypted and authenticated can finance professionals provide the same level of privacy and security afforded to clients during a face-to-face consultation.  This ensures the identity of every conference participant is fully authenticated before the conference is initiated.

The new normal

The video conferencing authentication process is simple, but hugely effective and vital for the video-driven new normal in financial services.  It provides all the necessary foundations for client security and privacy and will play a vital role in the continued success of the industry.  Social distancing has forced us to rethink how we deliver client services, but it has also offered the opportunity to roll out cutting edge technology at breakneck pace.  However, while the results are already hugely positive, we need to ensure security remains the priority.

The original article is published on Global Banking & Finance Review.