Tips for safe screen sharing in home office times

The Corona pandemic has catapulted employees into the home office in record time and radically changed ways of working. Screen sharing, a method of sharing your own screen with others, is becoming increasingly important in the home office as conferences, meetings and webcasts are held online only. You can learn about the dangers of this and how to avoid them in this blog post.

Many people’s everyday working lives have changed dramatically as a result of the pandemic. Working from the comfort of your living room has further blurred professional and private boundaries. Professional video calls with laughing or crying children in the background are now as much a part of everyday work life as the questions “Can you hear me?” or “Can you see my screen yet?”.

The home office confronts employees with very different challenges

While some enjoy videoconferencing without pants or relaxing from the backyard to complete their tasks, the odd mishap also happens. In April, for example, a lawyer in Texas showed up for a virtual hearing as a cat by mistake because he had to use his secretary’s computer and she had left a cute cat filter on Zoom. Equally memorable, the BBC interview with Kelly, a professor of politics. While he is talking about a political conflict, first his daughter dances her way into the room, then a second child rolls in on the desk chair. Despite being highly experienced in the media, the professor visibly finds it difficult to maintain concentration amid the noise and the interview. Even the beloved pets like to sneak into the video camera’s frame in the home office. They either demand more attention from their owners now that they are home so much during the day, or they are surprised that anyone else lives in their apartment. They are only very rarely suitable as help.

The company-wide shift in communications to digital tools like Slack or Teams has some laughs, but also potential dangers that employees should be aware of.

Share the screen once, keep the information in your head forever

Often, employees have many different tabs, windows and files open at the same time that they are working on. If a spontaneous video call takes place in which you share your screen, it can quickly happen that the other person sees the wrong file or the wrong window. If there are several people at the end of the digital line, for example because the presenter is in a customer presentation or a webcast with 100 participants, this is unpleasant. And if the shared screen also reveals important private information, such as a list of passwords, it’s not only embarrassing, but a serious GDPR violation to boot. The incident can weaken the reputation of the entire company and make it vulnerable to attack, as sensitive information was shared publicly.

Stored password during screen sharing

It often happens that employees who are currently sharing their screen with external people need to log in to tools and applications. If their password is stored in the browser, this does not reflect well on the employee in terms of security. The problem is that the passwords are not encrypted on the end device and anyone with access to the device can easily spy out the data.

Never log on online without privacy protection

Protected information such as passwords or access data should never be displayed in plain text. A password manager like Password Safe encrypts each password uniquely and complexly and never shows it in plain text. Users only need to log in once per session with their master password, all other logins happen automatically with just one click. This way, even in split-screen presentations, employees can log in to different applications without fear that their password will be displayed in plain text. Long Excel lists of passwords and email addresses stored locally on the desktop also become obsolete.

Authorize users based on roles with Password Safe

For accesses with very sensitive information, selected employees should be able to log in, but it is not necessary for them to know the password. With Password Safe, not only can access be granted and shared on a role-based basis, but it is also possible to give or revoke the right per role to reveal a specific password. In this way, unauthorized password sharing can be prevented.

Introducing an enterprise password manager for all employees in a company is the first step towards more security. In addition, employees can follow three more tips to integrate more security into their daily work:

1. Separate personal and work laptops.

If possible, we recommend a strict separation between personal and work laptops. This can reduce the risk of revealing embarrassing or private information in a video call via screen sharing. In addition, this separation has a positive effect on the work-life balance, as no work-related e-mails appear on the private laptop after work or on the weekend.

2. Careful preparation before each meeting

We also recommend a five-minute preparation period before each meeting. The presenter should not only prepare for the upcoming meeting, but also briefly clean up the laptop and desktop. All documents containing sensitive information should be closed, so that the wrong window does not appear in the first place during screen sharing. Likewise, it makes sense to move important documents on the desktop to neutrally named folders, so the laptop makes a neat and prepared impression. Last but not least, it is always advisable to set the communication tools to silent and “do not disturb” to avoid receiving messages while presenting or screensharing.

3. Test trials and test rooms

Before using a new tool, it is equally advisable to learn about it in advance. There are often test rooms where you can familiarize yourself with the sound, background and microphone before actually using it. In this way, the basic settings can also be changed quickly and efficiently in the real presentation with screen sharing.

You can find more information on the topic of IT security in the home office in our blog post: “Why IT needs to listen especially well when it comes to the home office“.

More information for good password hygiene you can find here.

May 4, 2021|
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