Work-from-home strategies are putting a stronger emphasis on security for video conferencing and virtual meetings. How does Masergy’s Meetings solution address security? This paper has the answers. It describes the security features of Masergy Meetings solution, which is powered by Webex.
Many networks cannot adequately support cloud communications, which is why IT leaders are coupling UCaaS/CaaS with SD-WAN. Nemertes Research offers this guide to an integrated approach.
Webex® Meetings helps enable global employees and virtual teams to collaborate in real-time as though they were working in the same room. Businesses, institutions, and government agencies worldwide rely on Cisco® Webex Meetings solutions. These solutions help simplify business processes and improve results for sales, marketing, training, project management, and support teams. For all these companies and agencies, security is a fundamental concern. Online collaboration must provide multiple levels of security for tasks that range from scheduling meetings to authenticating participants to sharing documents.
Cisco makes security the top priority in the design, development, deployment, and maintenance of its networks, platforms, and applications. You can incorporate Webex Meetings solutions into your business processes with confidence, even with the most rigorous security requirements. This paper provides details about the security measures of Webex Meetings and its underlying infrastructure to help you with an important part of your investment decision.
Note: The terms “Webex Meetings” and “Webex Meetings sessions” refer to the integrated audio conferencing, Internet voice conferencing, and video conferencing used in all Webex Meetings online products. Unless otherwise specified, the security features we describe pertain equally to all the Webex Meetings applications listed in this paper.
This paper describes the security features of Webex applications and related services. It discusses the tools, processes, and engineering that help customers confidently collaborate on the Webex Meetings platform.
Webex Meetings applications include:
Cisco remains firmly committed to maintaining leadership in cloud security. Cisco’s Security and Trust organization works with teams throughout our company to build security, trust, and transparency into a framework that supports the design, development, and operation of core infrastructures to meet the highest levels of security in everything we do.
This organization is also dedicated to providing our customers with the information they need to mitigate and manage cybersecurity risks.
The Webex security model (Figure 1) is built on the same security foundation deeply engraved in Cisco’s processes.
The Webex organization consistently follows the foundational elements to securely develop, operate, and monitor Webex services. We will be discussing some of these elements in this document.
Figure 1. Cisco Security Model
At Cisco, security is not an afterthought. It is a disciplined approach to building and delivering world-class products and services from the ground up. All Cisco product development teams are required to follow the Cisco Secure Development Lifecycle. It is a repeatable and measurable process designed to increase the resiliency and trustworthiness of Cisco products. The combination of tools, processes, and awareness training introduced in all phases of the development lifecycle helps ensure defense in depth. It also provides a holistic approach to product resiliency. The Webex Product Development team passionately follows this lifecycle in every aspect of product development.
Read more about the Secure Development Lifecyle.
The Cisco Security and Trust organization provides the process and the necessary tools that give every developer the ability to take a consistent position when facing a security decision.
Having dedicated teams to build and provide such tools takes away uncertainty from the process of product development.
Some examples of tools include:
Cisco has dedicated departments in place to instill and manage security processes throughout the entire company. To constantly stay abreast of security threats and challenges, Cisco relies on:
Led by the chief security officer for cloud, this team is responsible for delivering a safe Webex environment to our customers. InfoSec achieves this by defining and enforcing security processes and tools for all functions involved in the delivery of Webex into our customers’ hands.
Additionally, Cisco InfoSec Cloud works with other teams across Cisco to respond to any security threats to Webex. Cisco InfoSec is also responsible for continuous improvement in Webex’s security posture.
Cisco PSIRT is a dedicated global team that manages the inflow, investigation, and reporting of security issues related to Cisco products and services. PSIRT uses different mediums to publish. Information, depending on the severity of the security issue. The type of reporting varies according to the following conditions:
In all cases, PSIRT discloses the minimum amount of information that end users will need to assess the impact of a vulnerability and to take steps needed to protect their environment. PSIRT uses the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) scale to rank the severity of a disclosed issue. PSIRT does not provide vulnerability details that could enable someone to craft an exploit.
Learn more about PSIRT online at cisco.com/go/psirt.
Although every person in the Webex group is responsible for security, following are the main roles:
The Webex group conducts rigorous penetration testing regularly, using internal assessors. Beyond its own stringent internal procedures, Cisco InfoSec also engages multiple independent third parties to conduct rigorous audits against Cisco internal policies, procedures, and applications. These audits are designed to validate mission-critical security requirements for both commercial and government applications. Cisco also uses third-party vendors to perform ongoing, indepth, code-assisted penetration tests and service assessments. As part of the engagement, a third party performs the following security evaluations:
Third-party assessors work directly with the Webex engineering staff to explain findings and validate the remediation. As needed, Cisco InfoSec can provide a letter of attestation from these vendors.
Webex is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution delivered through the Webex Cloud, a highly secure service-delivery platform with industry-leading performance, integration, flexibility, scalability, and availability. The Webex Cloud is a communications infrastructure purpose-built for real-time web communications.
Webex meeting sessions use switching equipment located in multiple data centers around the world. These data centers are strategically placed near major Internet access points and use dedicated high-bandwidth fiber to route traffic around the world. Cisco operates the entire infrastructure within the Webex Cloud with industry-standard enterprise security.
Additionally, Cisco operates network Point-of-Presence (PoP) locations that facilitate backbone connections, Internet peering, global site backup, and caching technologies to enhance performance and availability for end users.
Physical security at the data center includes video surveillance for facilities and buildings and enforced two-factor identification for entry. Within Cisco data centers, access is controlled through a combination of badge readers and biometric controls. In addition, environmental controls (for example, temperature sensors and fire-suppression systems) and service continuity infrastructure (for example, power backup) help ensure that systems run without interruption.
Within the data centers are also “trust zones,” or segmented access to equipment based on infrastructure sensitivity. For example, databases are “caged”: the network infrastructure has dedicated rooms and racks are locked. Only Cisco security personnel and authorized visitors accompanied by Cisco personnel can enter the data centers.
Cisco’s production network is a highly trusted network: only very few people with high trust levels have access to the network.
Platform security encompasses the security of the network, systems, and the overall data center within the Webex Cloud. All systems undergo a thorough security review and acceptance validation prior to production deployment, as well as regular ongoing hardening, security patching, and vulnerability scanning and assessment.
All systems undergo a thorough security review and acceptance validation prior to production deployment. Servers are hardened using the Security Technical Implementation Guidelines (STIGs) published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Firewalls protect the network perimeter and firewalls. Access Control Lists (ACLs) segregate the different security zones. Intrusion Detection Systems (IDSs) are in place, and activities are logged and monitored on a continuous basis. Daily internal and external security scans are conducted of Webex Cloud. All systems are hardened and patched as part of the regular maintenance. Additionally, vulnerability scanning and assessments are performed continuously.
Service continuity and disaster recovery are critical components of security planning. The Cisco data centers’ global site backups and high-availability design help enables the geographic failover of Webex services. There is no single point of failure.
Encryption at run time
All communications between Webex applications and Webex Cloud occur over encrypted channels. Webex uses TLS 1.2 protocol and uses high-strength ciphers (for example, AES 256).1
After a session is established over TLS, all media streams (audio VoIP, video, screen share, and document share) are encrypted.2
User Datagram Protocol (UDP) is the preferred protocol for transmitting media. In UDP, media packets are encrypted using AES 128. The initial key exchange happens on a TLS-secured channel. Additionally, each datagram uses Hashed- Based Message Authentication Code (HMAC) for authentication and integrity.
Media streams flowing from a client to Webex servers are decrypted after they cross the Webex firewalls. Cisco can then provide network-based recordings, and all media streams can be recorded for future reference. Webex then re-encrypts the media stream before sending it to other clients. However, for businesses requiring a higher level of security, Webex also provides end-to-end encryption. With this option, Webex Cloud does not decrypt the media streams. As it does for normal communications, it establishes a TLS channel for clientserver communication.
Additionally, all Webex clients generate key pairs and send the public key to the host’s client. The host generates a random symmetric key using a Cryptographically Strong Secure Pseudo-Random Number Generator (CSPRNG), encrypts it using the public key that the client sends, and sends the encrypted symmetric key back to the client.
The traffic generated by clients is encrypted using the symmetric session key. In this model traffic cannot be deciphered by the Webex server.
This end-to-end encryption option is available for Webex Meetings and Webex Support. Note that when end-to-end encryption is enabled, the following features are not supported:
Webex supports following cipher suites for secured communications. Webex will allow the strongest possible cipher for the customer’s environment. Table 1 outlines cipher suites and each suite’s bit length.
Table 1. Cipher suites and bit lengths
When configured by the customer to do so, Webex Meetings stores meeting and user data that may be critical to your business. Webex Meetings uses the following safeguards to protect data at rest:
Webex application behavior is built from the ground up around five roles, each of which is granted different privileges. They are described below.
The host schedules and starts a Webex meeting. The host controls the meeting experience for everyone and makes relevant decisions while scheduling the meeting and during it.
The site administrator (a role described later) can mandate many of these controls. If they are not mandated, then the host can make choices on how to secure meetings.
While scheduling, the host can assign alternate hosts, who can start the meeting in lieu of the host and essentially have the same set of privileges as the host.
A host can also pass on his or her privileges to another user during the meeting. With respect to security, there is no difference between the host and alternate host.
A presenter can share presentations, specific applications, or an entire desktop. The presenter controls the annotation tools. From a security standpoint, the presenter can grant and revoke remote control over the shared applications and desktop to individual attendees.
A panelist is primarily responsible for helping the host and presenter keep the event running smoothly. Any number of attendees can be panelists. The host may ask panelists to serve as subject matter experts, viewing and answering attendee questions in a Q and A session; respond to public and private chat messages; annotate shared content; or manage polls as the polling coordinator.
Attendees have no security responsibilities or privileges unless they are assigned the presenter or host role. Ultimately, the site administrator and the host can allow an attendee to grab the Webex ball (presenter role) anytime in the course of the meeting. This setting is off by default.
This role is authorized for managing accounts as well as for managing and enforcing policies on a site basis or per-user basis. The administrator can choose the Webex capabilities that are available to all other roles and users.
Webex has granular site administration capabilities to effectively align your Webex site with your business needs. This section describes the main security-related features. For further information on all security features, please refer to the Webex site administration guide here.
You can integrate your identity management technology with Webex to allow single sign-on and give you full control over account management and access policies. When your accounts are kept in Webex, a number of site administration capabilities allow you to manage accounts according to your needs.
The site administrator can carry out the following actions:
Additionally, the administrator can manage password criteria using the following options:
The granular settings for meetings can be used to manage the behavior of users and system before, during, and after meetings. In most cases these settings can be applied at the center level to allow Webex Meetings, Webex Events, and Webex Training to behave differently and be aligned with required use cases for all users. In addition, many inmeeting features such as file transfer, desktop sharing, and recording can be enabled or disabled for a group of users using customized session types.
Meeting settings can:
For most of these settings the site administrator can choose to leave a setting at a lower security level for the entire site. Hosts can then make security decisions for specific meetings based on need. For example, the site administrator may not require a sign-on to join meetings, but individual hosts can choose to secure specific meetings by allowing only signed-on attendees.
Every Webex host can be given a dedicated URL for a Personal Room that can be used for meetings. The Personal Room URL is structured as follows: https://sitename.webex.com/meet/username. The host or the Webex administrator can change the username. Collaboration becomes much easier with Personal Rooms because attendees don’t have to look for emails or calendars to join a meeting. The Personal Room can be thought of as a personalized virtual room where a host is available.
When it comes to securing the Personal Room, the Webex administrator can:
As a Personal Room host, you can:
Webex supports federated authentication for user Single Sign-On (SSO) using the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0 protocol.
The site administrator will have to upload a public key X.509 certificate to the customized Webex site.
You can then generate SAML assertions containing user attributes and digitally sign the assertions with the matching private key. Webex validates the SAML signature against the preloaded public key certificate before authenticating the user.
Those assertions are exchanged between the customer’s access management or identity solution and the Webex site. The customer’s solution (for example, Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services, PingFederate, CA Siteminder Single Sign-On, OpenAM, or Oracle Access Manager) acts as an Identity Provider (IdP). The Webex site acts as the service provider. Webex supports both service-provider-initiated and IdP-initiated SSO flows.
Implementing single sign-on on Webex gives you complete control over user and access management to meet your corporate policies. Some benefits:
Users can join or start a Webex Meeting with a video device. This capability can be optionally made available on a Webex Meetings site. Once turned on, a user can use a Cisco TelePresence® endpoint, a soft client or any third-party standards-based video device to join meetings by dialing the meeting video address. Experience is amazing with Cisco end points as a user can join a meeting on a device by automatic wireless pairing.
There is no additional video bridging equipment is required on the customer premises for video devices to work. The video-bridging capabilities are deployed in the same highly secure Webex Cloud as the Webex Meeting Center and use the same industry-grade security controls (physical, network, infrastructure, and administrative). Video endpoints can join meetings over Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and H.323 for signaling and Real-Time Transport Protocol/Secure Real-Time Protocol (RTP/SRTP) media. Webex Meetings supports TLS transport for SIP and SRTP for media. When video endpoints join a meeting over SIP/TLS, the media stream is encrypted through SRTP.
H.235 is used to secure H.323 connections.
Additionally, a site can be configured to require passcodes for joining meetings using a video device.
Webex Cloud Connected Audio (CCA) is an end-to-end audio solution that uses your on-premises IP telephony network to provide an integrated audio experience for your Webex meetings. Webex CCA implements a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunk from your premises into the Webex data center instead of using a traditional telephony connection. This solution provides the same integrated and intuitive user experience as all other Webex audio options. However, by directly using your IP telephony network, Webex CCA can provide more attractive audio pricing.
CCA is a fully encapsulated environment. Reaching it from the Internet or perpetrating any kind of an attack is extremely difficult. Although the infrastructure is shared, there is no inter-tenant routing, so malicious traffic from other tenants is blocked. Furthermore, traffic over the trunk is limited to routing protocols and User Datagram Protocol (UDP) packets to desired Webex infrastructure ports. The Webex infrastructure is configured to receive traffic from preconfigured dial peers only.
CCA connectivity is established through point-to- point private connections to the Webex platform. CCA circuits are terminated on dedicated customer ports.
Access control lists on edge routers and firewalls in both the customer’s and Cisco’s data centers secure the circuits.
CCA Service has segmented IP subnets, and only the Webex Cisco Unified Border Element (CUBE) IP segment is advertised to customers. No customer has any visibility into another customer’s IP or CUBE.
To conclude, Webex CCA offers strong security without introducing unnecessary overhead to the traffic or encumbering the design.
Customer data protection, retention, and compliance Webex takes customer data protection seriously. We collect, use, and process customer information only in accordance with the Cisco Privacy Statement. The Webex Terms of Service provides additional information.
Webex Meetings is Privacy Shield Framework-certified.
Webex will, pursuant to appropriate lawful transfer mechanisms, transfer the administrative data, support data, and telemetry data from the EU to United States (and where appropriate, to other permissible locations). The definitions of these categories of data are provided below.
Administrative data: Information about employees or representatives of a customer or other third party that is collected and used by Cisco in order to administer or manage Cisco’s delivery of products or services, or to administer or manage the customer’s or third party’s account for Cisco’s own business purposes. Administrative data may include the name, address, phone number, email address, and information about the contractual commitments between Cisco and a third party, whether collected at the time of the initial registration or later in connection with the management or administration of Cisco’s products or services.
Administrative data may also include the meeting title, time, and other attributes of the meetings conducted on Webex by employees or representatives of a customer. Other examples of administrative data may include meeting title, meeting time, and other attributes of the meetings hosted on Webex.
Customer data: All data (including text, audio, video, image files, and recordings) that is either provided to Cisco by a customer in connection with the customer’s use of Cisco products or services, or developed by Cisco at the specific request of a customer pursuant to a statement of work or contract. Customer data includes log, configuration, or firmware files, and core dumps. It is data taken from a product or service and provided to Cisco to help us troubleshoot an issue in connection with a support request. Customer data does not include administrative data, support data, or telemetry data.
Support data: Information that Cisco collects when a customer submits a request for support services or other troubleshooting, including information about hardware or software. It includes details related to the support incident, such as authentication information, information about the condition of the product, system, and registry data about software installations and hardware configurations, and error-tracking files. Support data does not include log, configuration, or firmware files, or core dumps taken from a product and provided to us to help us troubleshoot an issue in connection with a support request, all of which are examples of customer data.
Telemetry data: Information generated by instrumentation and logging systems created through the use and operation of the product or service.
All data collected in Webex Cloud is protected by several layers of robust security technologies and processes. Below are examples of controls placed in different layers of Webex operations to protect customer data:
Cisco employees do not access customer data unless access is requested by the customer for support reasons. Access to systems in this case is allowed by the manager only in accordance with the “segregation of duties” principle. It is granted only on a need-to-know basis and with only the level of access required to do the job. Employee access to these systems is also regularly reviewed for compliance. Employees with such access are required to take annual International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 27001 Information Security Awareness training.
In addition to these specialized controls, every Cisco employee undergoes a background check, signs a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA), and completes Code of Business Ethics (COBE) training.
Cisco can provide information regarding the functionality, technology, and security of Webex. A HIPAA-covered entity would need to consult with its own legal counsel to determine whether Webex’s functionality is compliant for its business processes and GDPR ready.
In addition to complying with our stringent internal standards, Webex also continually maintains third-party validations to demonstrate our commitment to information security. Webex is:
Be collaborative and get more done, faster, using Webex solutions, a proven industry leader in web and video conferencing. Webex offers a scalable architecture, consistent availability, and multilayer security that is validated and continuously monitored to comply with stringent internal and third-party industry standards. We connect everything more securely to make anything possible.
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