Have a quick video call over your smartphone about work related matters, and you may feel secure; you may think that there are so many free video calls that certainly nobody is listening to yours. However, as people begin bringing their own device (BYOD) to work, IT professionals are increasingly sensitive to the security measures offered over video. At Suitable Technologies, the makers of the Beam® Smart Presence System (SPS) including BeamPro™ and Beam+™, we take security seriously for the new video collaboration option called “remote presence.”
The video conferencing software used for the Beam SPS is developed internally by the team at Suitable Technologies in order to control all aspects of security, quality, and experience for communication and motion throughout a building. The System seamlessly integrates low latency audio/video with real-time driving controls enabling ‘presence’ rather than simply conversation. With a minimum bandwidth of ~1Mbps, high-quality video is prioritized so users always see where they are going, enabling safe movement in even the most crowded environment; by matching latencies for both driving and video, the pilot has easy, intuitive control. Extensive user permission tools work with all Beam models and encompass the entire user network. Suitable Technologies employees rely on Beam every day for their own needs: remote work, home and family, events, and meetings with Fortune 500 customers.
In addition to robust, integrated video conferencing and mobility software, the hardware and Beam management tools embody security and privacy protocols that enforce secure face-to-face collaboration, for example:
- The Beam App. does NOT have built-in video/audio recording or photo-taking.
- Beam video must be on at all times so locals know who is piloting the SPS.
- When in use, the Beam ‘neck’ is illuminated so people know a remote pilot is present even if the local cannot see the screen.
- Similar to providing key card access to a building, Beam site administrators can grant permission to a Beam temporarily - on specific days, for specific hours.
- Administrators can require that a SPS must be answered with a physical tap by the local person when a remote pilot seeks to beam in.
A secure video collaboration solution is required to enable sensitive face-to-face interactions when travel is not an option. With assurance that Beams provide secure, safe, and reliable remote presence with colleagues; users have access to more jobs, are able to manage teams across oceans, and can transact business with a sense physical presence that is otherwise unachievable.
Synopsis from the Network Administration Guide on SPS security specs and operability:
Beam communications is protected using industry standard TLS (Transport Layer Security). Beam session data (audio/video) is encrypted using AES256 and authenticated using HMACSHA1. Encryption and decryption happen at the endpoints.
The Beam Service allows a pilot using a Beam App to connect to a Smart Presence System (SPS). The Service facilitates the following communication processes for Suitable Technologies:
- System Configuration
- System Diagnostic data (e.g., performance data, errors and logs relating to the software's behavior, etc)
- Software Updates
- Session establishment signaling (e.g., exchange of IP/Port information between the Beam App and Beam SPS)
A session between the Beam SPS and the Beam App occurs via a direct peer-to-peer UDP (User Datagram Protocol) connection. A Beam session can flow either via:
- a direct connection, where no Beam session data (audio/video) flows through the Beam Service, or
- when it is not possible to establish a direct connection, a relay server is selected and used to forward the encrypted session traffic between the SPS and App.
- If connection between either the Beam App to the relay or the Beam SPS to the relay is not possible, a session is not established.
- Additional protection can be provided by employing a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
Suitable Technologies’ employees are not allowed to connect to customer SPSs without written permission from the site administrator. Employees will never connect to SPSs in a manner that could provide unknown or unseen audio/video access to customer’s facilities. All access to SPSs, whether routine or for troubleshooting, is auditable.
Suitable Technologies can provide a packaged version of the relay software for the customer to run on their own network. If a Beam is configured to use an internal relay, session data (audio/video) never passes through Suitable Technologies’ Beam Service.
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Contributor: Erin Rapacki Director of Marketing, Suitable Technologies, Inc.