Don't share sensitive stuff on video calls, or you could be in serious hot water

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Instant messaging (IM) and online collaboration tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, are now such trusted platforms that  many workers feel comfortable making life and business decisions there.

This is according to a new report from enterprise data protection provider Veritas Technologies, which warns workers to be careful when sharing sensitive information over such video conferencing platforms. It claims that almost a third (30%) of knowledge workers have been reprimanded by bosses for using these platforms, as roughly three quarters admitted sharing business critical data, or personal information.

That information includes birthdays, medical information (including Covid-19 test results), salary information, bank data (including PIN numbers), corporate passwords, client details or business plans.

Polling 12,500 office workers in 10 countries for the report, Veritas discovered that one of the main issues with using instant messaging and collaboration platforms is having a (paper) trail on different agreements and contracts. Approximately half of the respondents believe their employer saves the data from these apps, while 58% do it themselves.

Covid-19 catalyst 

However, 54% would usually delete the original versions of their online conversations, making proving signed contracts or placed orders that much more difficult, frustrating the bosses. Yet still, the majority (90%) said IM tools would constitute a reliable proof of agreement.

Covid-19 has only made this problem worse, as IM platforms became the go-to place for business communication nowadays. The time people spend on Zoom or Microsoft Teams rose by a fifth since last year, Veritas claims, saying that employees spend roughly two and a half hours a day on them.

A quarter of employees spend more than half of their working week communicating on various digital platforms.

“There are two major challenges with this type of information sharing. Firstly, some of it should never be shared with anyone - no one should be sharing their PIN, for example. Secondly, some of it should only be shared in the right way,” commented Ajay Bhatia, GM, Digital Compliance at Veritas Technologies.

 “Business information that’s shared without leaving a permanent record can cause legal and compliance issues for companies. The same can be true for personal information if it becomes something that you later need for tax or medical reasons – or, worse, if the person you’re chatting with turns out to be scamming you.”

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.