Zoom Bombs Away!

As a result of COVID-19, the world was introduced to Zoom…and then to the Zoom bomb. If you are not familiar with a Zoom bomb, you are very lucky. Very informal meetings have, at best, been interrupted by merry pranksters, and at worst, had sensitive data stolen. With the threat of a Zoom bomb, how could anyone seriously consider doing a Remote Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) that involves both the need to share information freely and the need to share a company’s most sensitive information?

Well, Adley is not new to Zoom, Zoom bombs, or Remote PHA’s. When we first began pioneering the use of remote PHA or virtual PHA or distant PHA (or whatever it may be called in your community), we did a thorough review of the technologies out there. Security was a primary concern for both our clients and us.

How do you make your Remote PHA Zoom bomb-proof? Simple, do not use Zoom. If only it were that easy. We do not use Zoom. Instead, we use a different product by Cisco, called Webex. Cisco, a leading manufacturer of not only the world’s networking equipment but also the secured networking equipment used by utilities and security-sensitive industrial facilities. However, let’s take a step back and introduce the players in this space.

We will start with the new(er) kid on the block, Zoom. According to Wikipedia, Eric Yuan founded Zoom in 2011. By 2013, it had over 1 million participants. Zoom went public in April of 2019. As a result of COVID-19, Zoom has seen its shares increase to over 260% of its initial offering. Zoom has become more than a business meeting platform. It has communities that range from blind dates to zoom recess as well as the pop culture reference to Zoom university. Its pricing structure allows for free use and upgraded pay use. As of late, Zoom has come under fire for sharing sensitive data of its participants with nonsubscribers.

Now, let’s talk about Cisco. If you have knowledge of the history of data networks, you will know that Cisco is the Alpha and the Omega. If you are reading this blog, I guarantee it passed over a cisco network before it reached you. However, with this massive legacy comes a level of rigidity that makes adapting to the ever-changing business world a challenge. Webex is a more traditional platform that lacks the universal acceptance and “coolness” of Zoom.

So as Remote PHA facilitator, we were faced with the ultimate dilemma. On the one hand, we could use a platform that is universally used by people of all ages to talk to their friends and family but is newer and may present security challenges (Zoom). On the other hand, we could use a product by a legacy company with an excellent reputation, but the participants in the PHA may be unfamiliar with the controls or setup. It was a decision we did not take lightly, and several years ago, we wrestled with a lot. Eventually, we built our product around Webex. Not to say we do not use Zoom, but we typically recommend Webex. We felt that the security offered by Webex outweighed the familiarity of Zoom. We like Zoom; we use it to talk to our kids who are away. However, for Remote PHAs, Webex seems to be the natural fit both because of security and the meeting functionality ease such as screen sharing.

What we discovered was that we were not alone. A lot of bigger clients already were regular users of Webex for training and meetings. This allowed us to minimize the concern of user familiarity. So far, it has been a great decision, and we are happy with the Webex product. Does a Webex subscription service cost us money? Absolutely. However, we are a professional firm and do not mind equipping our employees with the greatest tools.

We are excited that the world is getting a glimpse of how we have been conducting business for almost half a decade.

Let Adley Services help you with your Remote PHA in a safe and secure environment.