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Securing users and devices in Webex

Common security challenges with users and devices

Today there are too many security challenges to the applications used by organizations, and many different vectors need to be secure:

  • User identities
  • Content
  • Devices
  • Transport

Security challenges to the applications.

The way that we protect the applications is crucial. We need to protect the application access, but also the identity of the user.

It is the job of the IT manager to prevent rogue agents from hijacking user identity and have access to all the different resources that the user is entitled to.

Identity theft has been identified in the Verizon 2019 report as the most common data breach, and if we add phishing attacks and stolen password, we get more than 50% of them. (1)

Breaches. Top threat action varieties in breaches

Protecting user identity

IT departments already understand that passwords are no longer an efficient way of protecting user identity.

It is difficult to manage application access based on passwords, as there are too many challenges:

  • Strong password complexity makes them hard to remember
  • Passwords should be unique to each app, which make them hard to remember
  • Passwords should rotate often which makes them difficult to manage and remember
  • Password manager web utilities can also bring security breaches

When deploying Webex, Cisco always recommends that our customers deploy it with a stronger authentication solution; at the same time, we recommend that the devices where Webex applications run are secure.

Strong authentication solution

Many customers want to enable all their applications with stronger authentication. Organizations realize that identity theft is the biggest security concern, and the traditional mechanisms for authentication are no longer effective.

Our customers talk about multifactor authentication (MFA), which means that their users need to provide two different types of authentication. There are three types of authentication mechanisms:

Strong authentication solution

Many vendors deliver these kinds of solutions; normally, we see them associated with Identity Provider (IdP) solutions. Those authentication policy servers, enforce the right authentication policy based on the different factor (location, application type, device type, etc.)

Today there is another trend in the identity market, where authentication mechanisms are people-centric and follow the Zero Trust mode. This allows secure connections to all applications (whether on-premises or in the cloud) based on the trustworthiness of users and devices. The Zero Trust mode enables the customer’s IT to set and enforce risk-based, adaptive access policies, and get enhanced visibility into users’ devices and activities. This concept is also known as Adaptive Authentication.

Cisco Webex right architecture

Cisco Webex has the right architecture to support the Zero Trust mode and allow secure connections based on the trustworthiness of users and devices.

Device validation and health

Device Validation and Health

Device assessment is a must in today’s organizations, identifying risky devices, enforcing contextual access policies, and reporting on device health.

Today organizations are mandated to follow many compliance goals, and they can achieve most of those using device access policies.

Verifying device health before granting access, to preventing exposing your applications to potential security risks is one of the best practices in modern application deployment models.

There are multiple types of devices that an organization’s users utilize every day when they use collaboration tools. Some of the devices are managed by the IT department, which already delivers some security insurance – but it isn’t enough. Some are unmanaged and owned by the employees, which brings interesting challenges from a security perspective.

Corporate managed devices/applications

CorporateManagedDevices:Applications

Normally there is a mix of solutions that can be used for corporate or managed devices, depending on the device type.

Some organizations use MDM/MAM for mobile devices, which allows them to create policies for the corporate application, for example:

  • Forcing PIN-lock
  • Preventing copy and paste
  • Disable screen capture
  • Remote wipe
  • Preventing tampering with devices
  • Requiring a minimum version of OS
  • Support for ECM
  • Requiring a minimum version of the corporate application

But since IT departments don’t manage only mobile devices, we also need to find a solution for desktops, and there we need to make sure that the corporate – managed applications are also aware of the security policies, and those apps could be aware of features like:

  • Versions of Browsers
  • OS versions and type
  • Disk encryption
  • Status on OS, Browsers, and Plugins
  • Firewalls
  • Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware

The protection of the application can be done by using the validations when the user logs in to the applications or during the application usage. The right mechanism, method, and deployment model needs to be chosen by IT administrations when they are in the deployment stage of those applications. The application vendors need to support any policy defined by the IT departments of those customers.

Cisco with Webex Collaboration doesn’t mandate any security strategy to protect the application, but we can integrate with any policy defined by our customer.

It is important that any application that deals with all the IP (Intellectual Property) produced by a company can follow all the policies that exist for devices and applications.

Non-managed devices

non managed devices

Devices that are owned by the users should not be excluded from the usage of a collaboration application. Examples of that are home computers, personal tablets, and mobile devices. Those devices are especially relevant in scenarios of working from home.

That is why corporate applications need to do extra check to make sure that they follow the minimum-security requirements imposed by the company security policies, for example:

  • The device has the firewall turned on
  • The device has an endpoint security tool, to protect against malware and viruses
  • The device doesn’t have a tampered OS

Normally these kinds of policies, for devices that are unmanaged, need to be enforced at login time.

Device/application visibility

Device:Application Visibility

One of the fundamental principles of good security is to understand your environment. But as environments get more complex with increasing reliance on cloud applications, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) allowances, and mobile and remote work, it’s progressively more difficult to gain that understanding.

For IT administrators, it is important that they have visibility on what devices each application is running; they also need to have visibility on the major characteristics of those devices.

Endpoint visibility also helps you understand and track important user behaviors such as how quickly end-users update their operating systems, browsers, or plugins. It also builds an understanding of when and how frequently end users log into work applications from their personal devices. Tracking these behaviors not only helps you set informed access policies but also helps tailor a more empathetic approach to different groups of users.

When it comes to security, trust Webex

Whether it’s the security of the Webex application itself or securing the devices that connect to it, Cisco Webex has security and privacy built into its DNA. Cisco has invested heavily in building a culture of security with the right checks and balances in place. Webex chooses secure default settings out of the box, thereby enabling users to start collaborating freely without having to worry about configurations. At the same time, Webex delivers a great user experience – one that doesn’t compromise security. That’s collaboration without compromise. That’s the Cisco security difference.

To learn more about Security and Compliance settings, go to the Cisco Webex Control Hub web page.

Resources

(1) Verizon 2019 report

Learn More

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working smarter anywhere - working remotely
Working smarter anywhere – Working remotely
Just because you aren’t in the same room, doesn’t mean you can’t have a great face-to-face meeting experience. In a physical conference room, you would be able to see each other, write notes, talk, share content and use a whiteboard.  You have the virtual equivalent of all those activities, in Webex.
Here are ways you can ensure you’re set up for success when working remotely:

Check your background 

Dedicate a space in your home that’s ergonomic, comfortable and productive. Avoid or remove any clutter in the background that can distract others in a meeting. Try facing a window for natural light, or have a lamp nearby, so your team can clearly see you on video.  

Minimize meeting distractions. 

Some background noise is inevitable in our homes.  Even with doors closed, the best way to keep noises from distracting others on the call is by putting yourself on mute when you’re not talking.  If you need to – ask for a moment to address the source of the noise so that you can keep their focus on you.   
 

Get headset up for success!  

Being on mute still won’t stop noises from your own surroundings distracting you.  Investing in noise cancelling headphones or a headset is a great way for you to keep focused on the task at hand.  Ask your IT team about options for headsets at your company. 
 Investing in noise cancelling headphones or a headset is a great way for you to keep focused on the task at hand. Ask your IT team about options for headsets at your company.

Take care of you. 

Being in the office gives teams cues to get coffee together and take breaks.  Without in-person social interaction, it’s easy for hours to pass without taking the same breaks you may in an office. Take regular moments to stretch out your body and schedule in virtual coffee chats with team members in between meetings.  
 

Vulnerable video 

In person, people are automatically engaged as they can see your reactions.  Sharing video can be intimidating at first, but your team will soon get used to sharing video in engaging, interactive remote discussions.  Be brave and turn on video in every meeting.  
Sharing video can be intimidating at first, but your team will soon get used to sharing video in engaging, interactive remote discussions. Be brave and turn on video in every meeting.
 

Need to tap a colleague on the shoulder?  Start with 1:1 chat.  

In an office, getting a question answered starts with looking around to check who is free. Setting a custom status lets people know what you’re up to, for example: “Out for lunch 🍽️.”  You can check your colleague’s availability easily in Webex Teams.  Even if your colleague is in an active call – a conversation can still start by messaging in a 1:1 space. If you need to escalate to a live call, simply click the green call icon in Webex Teams or share your Personal Meeting Room (PMR) details with them.  
  

The Team Huddle:   

Just like ad-hoc in-person team meetings gather everyone who may be free at once in a physical location, calling a space in Webex Teams virtually connects your team by calling them on any device at once.  In Webex Meetings, your Personal meeting room (PMR) is just like your in-person office desk.  The URL stays the same so you can easily share it, allowing your team to join your virtual room in an instant.    
 

Sharing is caring  

Maintaining attention in a virtual meeting is no different than in person.  Sharing your screen or presentation and using annotation on your content helps remote participant stay engaged and follow your points.
  

Ideas on the fly 

Just like in a physical office – sharing ideas on a whiteboard is a key part of working together.  In a virtual meeting,  it is even better!  In real life, you risk a white board being erased or written over.  When you whiteboard virtually, you can feel confident your ideas are saved, and pick up where you left off, by opening any whiteboard you’ve previously created and edit it in real time.  

Express yourself 

When messaging, remember your colleague can’t see your reactions.  If a picture tells a thousand words – then a Gif is a great way to express yourself.  In Webex Teams you can search from thousands of Gifs to find the perfect expression of yourself at any time.      

In Webex Teams you can search from thousands of Gifs to find the perfect expression of yourself at any time.

Let’s Celebrate!

Being remote doesn’t mean you need to change your team culture.  While you may not have a cake to share – you can still celebrate those moments that matter, like birthdays, delivering a project or achieving a goal – virtually!  Turn on your cameras and schedule time to connect as a team over video. take a look at this baby/bridal shower, and costume party
We’ve created a page with more guidance on working remotely at cs.co/webexremotework
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expanding business with video conferencing
How do I expand my small-scale business without capital?

Many small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) don’t survive for more than a few years. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 30% of them fail to make it through their second full year in operation. The causes of failure are diverse and include everything from subpar software and IT infrastructure to basic lack of capital. This article will focus primarily on the latter.

The challenges of not having enough capital to run your SMB

Simply starting a company can require over $10,000. In many instances, SMBs turn to banks for loans to help get through the early stages of business formation. Even with seemingly adequate funding, though, SMBs can still face numerous headwinds right away. 

These range from the predictable (needing to procure sufficient inventory) to the more volatile (having to spend more on accounting services/software due to one-off changes in the tax code). 

Added to the other costs that SMBs must bear on basics like insurance and office space, it’s no wonder many don’t make it past year two. But it’s possible to make an SMB budget more sustainable by implementing video conferencing software. 

How video conferencing tools help with budget crunches

Video conferencing solutions can bring meeting participants together without requiring any pricey travel. Plus, web meetings enable more flexible, less capital-intensive remote working arrangements. 

As a whole, video conferencing supports better, more cost-effective collaboration. More than simply helping an SMB optimize its budget, video meetings can also support expansion by connecting employees, recruits, and customers across many locations, in high-definition.

Here are some of the more specific ways in which video conferences fuel SMB success, even on a shoestring budget:

1. Hold productive meetings, no office required

Office space is expensive. The associated costs have spurred organizations across the U.S. to seek smaller workspaces and to take advantage of co-working and hotdesking environments. For example, real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield has charted growing densification of office space throughout the 2010s.

With video conferencing tools, SMB employees can make the most of even a small office or conference room that would be too cramped for a comfortable in-person meeting:

  • Anyone can be invited to the video meeting, whether it’s meant to be a small linkup between a specific team or an all-hands gathering.
  • It’s easy to join. Meeting participants only need to click a button in the solution when it’s time for the event to start.
  • The web meeting can be recorded for later distribution and viewing, so that no one misses out on what was covered.

Video conferencing software empowers teams to lead engaging and useful meetings without being constrained by physical space. That makes SMB expansion more feasible, since huge office spaces aren’t needed when setting up shop in new locales or trying to reach more customers.

2. Hire the right people from multiple locations

Many job searches begin by looking only for nearby candidates who don’t want/need to relocate. This makes sense in some respect, because moving is disruptive and often expensive, plus the position specs might not permit remote work.

But implementing a video conferencing platform allows for more flexibility in hiring. Say your SMB is looking to incorporate in an additional state and bring some employees on board there. Video conferencing would help in multiple ways:

  • A crystal-clear video feed could be set up for the interview. The candidate and interviewer would get more insight into each other’s reactions, including body language.
  • If hired, the candidate could then use video for their own work, perhaps as part of a remote working arrangement. They could join web conferences, view content through screen sharing, and collaborate with colleagues from anywhere.
  • Video conferencing software could also be useful for specific external-facing tasks such as conducting in-depth sales demos. A video conferencing solution is a powerful asset for sales personnel, who can use its built-in screen sharing capabilities to walk prospects through a product or service.

3. Reach audiences on any device or in any location

One of the central challenges for any SMB is building a reliable base of customers. How an organization pursues that goal will vary based on its industry, size, and personnel, but video conferencing will often be a reliable supporting tool along way.

Webinars show how a video conferencing system can expand an SMB’s reach without breaking the bank. A majority of B2B buyers have used webinars to support their purchasing decisions, according to the 2017 Content Preferences Survey Report.

Within a video conferencing solution, video feeds can be configured to show, say, a panel of subject matter experts discussing a relevant issue for buyers. But a video conference platform can go even further and enable deep interactivity between presenters and the audience, thanks to features like polling. A solution can also help manage registrations and any follow-up questions.

Audiences can participate in these events from any device. Webex supports phones, tablets, PCs, Macs, and standards-based video conferencing systems. 

 To learn more about how Webex can help your SMB grow more efficiently and stay within its budget, get started with a free plan today.

 

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thanks to the availability of communication and collaboration platforms, employees who want to take time away from the office don’t necessarily have to stop working.
How to increase remote employee productivity during the holiday season with Webex Teams

How to increase remote employee productivity during the holiday season

The holidays are here, which means a lot of people will be looking to work from home so they can spend more time with their families or visit relatives. The good news is, thanks to the availability of communication and collaboration platforms, such as Webex Teams,  employees who want to take time away from the office don’t necessarily have to stop working. Rather than deal with the annual rush of end-of-year PTO requests, companies can loosen up their work-from-home policies to let staff members get the best of both worlds, celebrating the holidays while staying on top of their job responsibilities.

With so many distractions and communication barriers to contend with, however, businesses should plan ahead to help encourage remote employees to be more productive during the holiday season. Taking these steps can get you started on the right foot and maintain smooth business operations through New Year’s and beyond.

Avoid micromanaging remote workers

A remote work arrangement can be a tough transition for employees and managers alike, as telecommuters have more autonomy and supervisors have less oversight. There can be a temptation to check in on staff members and co-workers (especially when collaborating on a shared assignment or project involving multiple stakeholders) several times a day to make sure they stay on track. Some businesses will go so far as screen- or mouse-tracking software on company-provided devices to keep tabs on remote workers.

These practices can be counter-productive, however, causing friction between employees and supervisors as well as between on-site and remote workers. There’s a reason to believe that micromanaging staff is ineffective. According to a recent Airtasker survey, 39% of remote workers who had their device screens or mouse movements tracked confessed to actively looking for ways to avoid working when that software was in effect.

Does that mean remote workers should be given complete autonomy in their work? Not necessarily. It’s always a good idea to check in once in a while on employees and co-workers who are telecommuting, even if it’s a temporary arrangement.

Staff members who are working from home during the holidays may not be accustomed to telecommuting and find it easier to get distracted than individuals who have had time to set up a routine and productive working environment in their home office. Long-time remote workers have the benefit of working out the kinks and figuring out what works for them. Temporary telecommuters don’t have that luxury. Stay in contact, but don’t micromanage. It’s a delicate balance.

Support workers on the go

Employees who work remotely during the holidays aren’t necessarily tethered to a desk in their home office. They could be traveling across the country to see relatives, getting out of the house and working in a local coffee shop, running last-minute errands or otherwise on the road.

Businesses can help employees on-the-go stay connected and productive when they’re away from the office by providing collaboration software that supports a variety of devices.

Someone flying to see their relatives for the holidays will probably have a lot of downtime waiting around in airports, for instance, and that’s the perfect time to catch up on work. Mobile-friendly communication platforms let employees set up virtual online meetings directly from their smartphones. They can schedule a quick check-in with co-workers and get progress updates on ongoing projects, staying in touch with staff members through crystal-clear, high-definition video.

Get more done in less time

Employees who work from home during the holidays are anxious to get their work done as quickly as possible so they can celebrate the season with their loved ones. Truthfully, in-office employees feel the exact same way, so business leaders should do what they can to streamline workflows and help staff members get more down in less time.

Webex Teams removes collaboration and communication obstacles, inefficiencies and redundancies that otherwise cause delays and prevent employees from working quickly. For instance, the People Insights feature compiles profile information for conference call attendees from publicly available sources. There’s no need to spend a lot of time on introductions or figuring out the roles of each stakeholder on a call because that information is made available before the meeting even begins.

Webex Teams also seamlessly integrates with a wide variety of third-party software platforms like Trello and Salesforce, so employees can do more work in a single interface. They don’t have to spend time on swivel-chair work that forces them to move between screens and applications because they can manage everything from one platform.

Employees who work remotely can be – and often are – just as productive as their in-office counterparts. We hope these ideas help you and your employees bring more success to your business this time of year.

Learn more about how Webex video conferencing and team collaboration software gives its users an entire suite of features to stay in direct contact with their co-workers and managers throughout the holiday season.

Get started with your free Webex plan today

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Video conferencing from a coffee shop
A “people first” approach meets technology

Everybody has had jobs that they’ve loved, and jobs that they’ve loathed (unless you have been very lucky). Every company has their pros and cons, but when recruiting we often see a commonality in why employees become disengaged: when employers take without giving, and focus only on what they want, not what they employee wants.

There is still time to change your stripes:

3 viewpoints jump out when looking into the research on employee engagement.

1) Mature westernized economies have a productivity problem. Individual productivity is going down, and that is a serious inhibitor to growth, for companies and countries. Deloitte found that a 20% uplift in productivity is required to hit stated business objectives.

The problem for employers is that the workforce of 2020 (the majority of which will be Millennials and Generation Z), do not live to work, they work to live, and they will not sacrifice their wellbeing to support business growth. A significant change from the past.

2) Desire for flexible working is at its highest ever. CBRE Genesis have shown that 53% of millennials will accept a 10% lower wage to work for an employer that supports flexible working.

3) Innovation is the critical differentiation for growth, but the battle for the best talent is the fieriest it has ever been.

Building a bridge between these conflicting requirements, growth and balance.

Technology is critical, but not as an Island. Companies need to look at the entire employee experience: including recruitment and on-boarding, working polices, career development, health and wellbeing.

It is a journey Cisco have been on for several years now, which we call Our People Deal. We have learned a lot in implementing this.  This is a 2-way deal, where expectations of the employees are set, and vice versa.

We are a very large company (70,000 + employees), this brings benefits of scale, but challenges for localisation. We have offices in 96 countries, emerging economies to mature economies. Each has their own customs, expectations and openness to change.

Our global workforce, 59% of our staff work in a different location to their manager, and 48% work across multiple time zones daily.

Our People Deal: Connect everything, innovate everywhere and benefit everyone.

Connect Everything. Putting policies in place to allow the staff to work within their communities, for those causes closest to their hearts.

Fostering a rich, caring team experience, that supports globally dispersed teams. It is not uncommon for team members to span the UK, Central Europe, USA and Asia.

Innovate Everywhere. Building an environment where the best ideas make it to the top of the pile, regardless of the location and seniority of the innovator. Providing access to multiple pathways for personal development

Building an incentive package that allows people to pick and mix, chop and change what is most important to them. Whatever life throws at you. Births, deaths, marriages, new jobs, retirement and many more experiences will change employee priorities. Supporting these are critical.

Role of Technology

9% of our workforce work fully remotely, with no identified office. 79% work from home, but go into the office once a week. 50% classify as mobile workers, without a desk to their name.  The focus is on performance, not presence. Performance is judged not just on what is achieved, but how it is achieved.  We want to win, but win the right way,  with our customers, partners and communities.

To support this we provide choice of collaboration experience to all. Prefer working via phone,  via chat, calling and messaging apps, or face to face using video, that is ok. We provide a choice of apps for every users preference, be that Jabber, Webex Teams or Webex Meetings.

We further enhance the meeting experiences by ensuring all offices. and our entire salesforce are equipped with market leading Video Telepresence. This spans personal units on the desk of our sellers at home, through to every size and shape of meeting space from huddle spaces to traditional board rooms.

Soft and Hard Benefits

Results wise we have seen a huge uplift, and not just on our revenues. Team engagement has increased 13%, the teams are retaining their employees 2.74x, confidence in leaders has increased by 14%, workplace satisfaction is up 17%, and work/life balance is up 5%

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3 tips for working with remote team members
3 tips for working with remote team members

If you don’t already work with a remote team member, chances are you soon will.

Flexjobs reports that 3.9 million Americans (2.9% of the total U.S. workforce) now work from home at least half of the time. And in 2017, “remote/work from home” was the fourth most popular job search term of the year.

These numbers are not surprising as more companies embrace the many benefits of remote work. With these new benefits come new responsibilities for leaders to ensure dispersed team members are able to connect, communicate and collaborate without interruption.

Connecting a remote team may seem like a daunting task. But with a “flexibility first” outlook and the right team collaboration tools, it is possible to make your remote colleagues feel a part of the team, regardless of their physical location.

Get started with a few tips:

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The environmental impact of video conferencing technology

Can we all agree that one of the best benefits of working remotely is skipping the morning traffic jam, powering up your laptop, and jumping on a Webex video conferencing call from the comfort of your own home? And for businesses, the perks of collaboration technology are clear – including increased productivity for global teams. As we continue to re-think how remote teams are shaping the future of work, one other benefit that can’t be ignored is the positive impact remote workers have on the environment. The ability to hop on a video conference call, instead of meeting in person is a game-changer.

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