“Trying to work with two kids at home is nearly impossible. My wife and I are going crazy.” During the last few weeks, anyone with kids, or calling someone with them, has heard that familiar statement. With schools and most offices closed, our current reality puts us and our families under the same roof, forcing us to find new ways to go about business as usual. But, just as we discover that we were not prepared for homeschooling our children (blessed be those teachers), some companies have also found out that, even if they supposedly had the tools for working from home, the ‘office’ part in their home office solution is not what they were expecting it to be.
Technical Difficulties and Miscommunication
It’s true, more and more companies are now using one of the leading unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solutions. These solutions enable them to remotely conduct web-meetings, share messages and documents, and give presentations, allowing for more effective team and project collaboration. But even if those OTT solutions make communicating easier, they are bringing in a lot of problems of their own: Unreliable security practices, personal data leaks, unauthorized sharing of information with Facebook, and even the installation of components that allow remote users to hijack the microphones and cameras of Mac users.
“… [W]e recognize that we have fallen short of the community’s –and our own– privacy and security expectations. For that, I am deeply sorry, and I want to share what we are doing about it”, wrote Eric S. Yuan, CEO of Zoom in a recent post, trying to ease the worries both of their customers and investors about the current crisis unfolding internally. At the moment, the company is being sued by their own shareholders for “overstating” the resilience of their security measures, which, they say, led its share price to collapse. Unlike investors, when looking for any available recourse, users –whether paying or not– discovered global OTT providers like Zoom are unregulated and are not liable for the issues their services might present.
Carriers and Working from Home
So it’s at times like these that people realize the real value of national telecommunications service providers. As they are sanctioned by local governments, national CSPs are held responsible for the services they offer. From data protection policies to unusual business practices, local consumers are defended by local regulations. CSPs are government-approved custodians of personal data. When they provide UCC solutions, they are also legally accountable for all data privacy issues. If a CSP were to sell personal data to third parties without the consent of its users, it would be immediately investigated by the national telecoms oversight body in its country, stiffly fined and potentially be sued for damages in its own country. OTT providers like Zoom, on the other hand, are usually headquartered in the USA, where most non-US users are unable to bring legal cases. But that’s not the only advantage of CSPs in our current state of crisis.
As they begin to boast hundreds of millions of users, global providers like Zoom, Microsoft or Cisco face another big threat: Hackers. To steal the personal data of so many users by attacking one single app results in a faster and cheaper exercise than investing more time in cracking smaller, diversified telecoms providers, each of which has its own network and security mechanisms. Why would hackers waste their time by attacking individual carriers if they can go after the likes of Cisco?
We at ECT work with CSPs to provide UCC solutions. These solutions have all the features of the leading services but are offered (and tailored) specifically in local markets. All services, including the storage of personal data, reside in the network of the provider, so they are accountable to telecoms regulatory bodies in their country for the security, data privacy, availability and disaster recovery of the services they offer. This way, when problems arise, customers have recourse – in their own country.
We may never be ready for homeschooling our kids, but carriers can be ready to help their customers with remote working. We at ECT will be working (maybe remotely) with them.