External collaboration in Webex Teams limited by new security control

Cisco is attempting to improve security for external collaboration in Webex Teams with a new feature for IT admins.

Cisco is planning to give IT admins more control over external collaboration in Webex Teams through domain whitelisting. The new tool will address a weak point in the messaging and video conferencing app's security.

Businesses with the Pro Pack security add-on can already prevent users from inviting guests outside of their organization to Webex Teams. Soon, they will be able to allow external guests from approved email domains only.

The control also blocks an organization's users from joining external Webex Teams accounts, unless they are from whitelisted domains. The feature is in beta testing, and Cisco has yet to announce a release date.

By default, Cisco lets users invite guests to groups within Webex Teams, as well as chatrooms used by the groups. But IT admins currently have only two options: Let users invite anyone or no one. The whitelisting feature will give IT admins more precise control.

Many businesses want to use collaboration apps like Webex Teams and Microsoft Teams to communicate with partners and customers outside of their organization. But inviting guests to a company's internal messaging app raises security concerns.

Vendors like NextPlane and Mio have capitalized on those concerns to market services that link one organization's messaging app with another's through a gateway. Other vendors have designed messaging apps with cross-company collaboration in mind, like Challo by CafeX Communications.

Slack, meanwhile, has developed a unique feature known as shared channels, which lets two companies create a channel that members from each entity can access. The setup enables each business to apply separate security and compliance policies to the files and messages exchanged in the space.

Cisco has attempted to draw contrasts with competitors like Slack and Zoom over security. In November, Cisco publicly rebuked Zoom for a vulnerability in its cloud-based device management portal.

But Cisco is not immune from security lapses. Just last week, the cybersecurity firm Armis Security revealed a flaw that exposed millions of Cisco IP phones, cameras, switches and routers to malware. Cisco has released patches.

Cisco to release bot management tool

In other Cisco security news, the vendor plans to help IT admins clamp down on bot usage in Webex Teams.

Cisco's app directory contains more than 100 bots for everything from scheduling to project management to finding nearby spas. Some provide automated messages, while others respond to user queries.

With the new tool, businesses will be able to block users from adding bots. Companies with a Pro Pack subscription will have the ability to allow only approved bots, similar to the whitelisting feature for external access.

When an organization blocks bots, the restriction will not eliminate existing bots. Cisco said the feature was in beta testing but would be available soon.

Also, Cisco said this week that its Talos ClamAV antimalware was available for Webex Teams. The software, included with an Extend Security Pack subscription, scans files shared in Webex Teams for viruses and blocks infected downloads.

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