How Switchboard secures your rooms and keeps them private
Security can be a confusing and intimidating topic. This overview is to help you understand the steps we take to keep your data safe in plain terms.
Using any cloud-based tool involves trust. Trust that its features will meet your needs, trust that it will work reliably when you need it, and most importantly trust that your data is secure. Keeping your data private and secure is our top priority and central to how Switchboard is designed.
Learn how security practices for sign in, encryption, collaboration and control impact your workspace.
Signing into sites in Switchboard
Part of the magic of Switchboard is using web based apps like Notion or Jira inside of a room. So how do we store your credentials for those sites safely? The short answer is Switchboard doesn’t store them in our infrastructure at all.
You may have noticed that for most websites, you only need to sign in once in a while. Perhaps once a month or so. Why is that? When you sign in, the website generates a token and stores it on your computer. The token allows the website to "remember" you without you having to sign in every time.
When you first sign into a site using a cloud browser in Switchboard, that information is securely passed through to the site you’re signing in to. Then the token they create gets stored in the browser on your computer, just like when you sign in with your own local browser. This way, you can stay signed in to your apps without Switchboard storing any of the login information. And the tokens are stored encrypted on your computer in such a way that they’re impossible to read.
Encryption is a way of protecting your plaintext by making it unreadable and incomprehensible. Here’s a real life example. Let’s say Bob and Alice are planning a surprise party for their friend Eve by passing notes in class. They’re worried Eve will find the notes, so they use a pair of decoder rings from a Cracker Jack box to write the notes in a secret code. That way when Eve finds a note, she can’t understand what it says. This is an example of data encrypted in transit.
Similarly the data traveling (or “in transit”) between your computer and our systems is encrypted. This ensures that even if someone is able to intercept the communication, it’s unreadable.
We also encrypt the data traveling within our systems, and the data stored (or in the technical jargon, “at rest”) in our systems such as files that you upload to rooms.
Collaboration and control
Easy to share, hard to steal. In Switchboard you’re able to quickly collaborate with who you want, without needing to worry about maintaining endless lists of permissions and settings.
That’s because we prioritize designing security into every aspect of the user experience. Behind the scenes we keep your data safe without getting in your way.
Here’s a few examples of how that plays out.
- Guests: Sharing the link to the room makes it quick and easy for anyone to join as a guest, but also requires a full member of that room to be present and approve them each time they try to enter the room. This ensures guests don’t have more access than needed.
- Browsers: Returning to a room in Switchboard loads everything just like you left it, but the browsers are actually destroyed and re-created on our side each time the room is opened so there’s no extra sessions open or data left laying around.
- Sign in: Logging into a web app like Notion allows you to show it to everyone in the room, but if they click to make a change, they’ll be asked to sign in with their own account first. While it looks and feels like the same browser, we create a new browser for each user and overlay it on top of the original so your sessions are kept separate.
- Navigation: When signed in you can easily hop between browsers, rooms, and workspaces, but each of these are kept isolated in the backend.
- Permission: Once you give Switchboard permissions to access your mic and camera, we keep those permissions intact anytime you’re in a room so you’re not constantly clicking the same popup from your browser. When you mute your camera in a room, we stop your video stream from leaving your computer and traveling over the network to the room. Unmuting the camera in Switchboard starts the stream quickly without you needing to adjust your browser permissions.
There’s much more to how we keep your data secure that we’ll share in future posts. We’re committed to protecting your information and earning your trust. That’s why we only partner with vendors who have the same or stricter protocols in place.