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Video-Conferencing: How to Keep an Online Meeting Safe and Secure

Video apps like Zoom are convenient and free to use, this does not mean that in the process, people should be compromising their security and privacy. You need to always make sure that you and your data are always safe and secured.

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The coronavirus lockdown has left millions of workers and students worldwide to use technology to find new ways to resume their tasks. And applications of video conferencing saved the day.

Platforms like Zoom, however, are not as stable as one would imagine. The organization has faced global criticism for its inadequate security policies and poor procedures to keep personal details secure for its customers.

As “zoombombs” have become a persistent issue, some organizations have even banned the use of the application, such as Google, SpaceX, NASA, the Taiwan government, Singapore’s Ministry of Education, and until recently, NYC public schools.

While video apps like Zoom are convenient and free to use, this does not mean that in the process, people should be compromising their security and privacy. You need to always make sure that you and your data are always safe and secured.

We have to recognize that none of these video conferencing apps are perfect; they all have vulnerabilities to security and privacy. Therefore, choose the one that is “better at certain items” than others when selecting which one to use. One is going to be better at surveillance, the other has better protection of privacy, while another might have better functions for calling.

Secure what you know

The Luta Security founder and CEO Katie Moussris said in an email to Engadget that users can only protect what they know. “The best advice is that you can only protect what you know. As a host, try to choose one platform and learn its functionality as well as you can because it will help you set up your calls as safely as possible and help you keep your participants safe.” If you have no choice as to which application to use as your company or client has already chosen one, please take the time to investigate.

Zoom had been bombarded with privacy and security issues earlier this year, so the organization had to fix it. Zoom has been working on solving many of these problems, but there are still a lot of concerns about gathering data from Zoom, how it manages them, and how they keep it secure.

Now, Tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and even Telegram tried to rival with Zoom. A telegram later this year revealed its intention to “give secure community video calls” while Facebook rushed to introduce Messenger Rooms. Though similar to Zoom, it promises a more stringent framework for privacy and security.

Although FaceTime is a very safe choice, despite Apple’s well-established record of privacy, its group video call is limited to only 32 people. Meanwhile, last month Skype released its “Meet Now” feature, which doesn’t need to use an account. And Google quickly moved Google Hangouts to Google Meet to house 100 users.

Check your settings

Whether you are using the app on a desktop or a mobile device, make sure all the settings are checked before using it. This is important to protect yourself against hackers, companies with poor guidelines for protection, and any other privacy and security issues.

Some protection solutions are not “enabled by default.” The “gold standard” for preventing cyber-attacks is an end to end encryption.

“There are features like adding passwords to video conferencing, actually allowing E2E [end-ro-end] encryption, or some other checkbox that makes it harder but easier. But you’re not some form of a casual dilettante, and besides, you’ve got secrets to keep. You’re going and clicking around in those non-default security options,” said Tod Beardsley, Research Director at Rapid7 to Engadget via email.

Click through all the settings, review the user profile and everything else to see if there is anything that needs upgrading. Switch off something that gives too much permission and allows the sharing of data with third parties, particularly advertisers. Likewise, don’t make interact with strangers. Using passwords on everything is very convenient.

Be more vigilant and careful whenever you’re online

All this may sound like a lot of effort but it’s going to be worth it. “When it comes to knowing that your video conference is secret to everyone but to the people in it, all this will get you to a good place,” Beardsley says.

Keeping your video conference program installed is one of the key tips for staying safe from hackers because businesses repair security vulnerabilities through updates on a regular basis.

It’s also important to remember that desktop settings in the app are different for mobile devices such as Zoom. Generally, desktop settings are more comprehensive than mobile apps, which provide more power. Thus, make it a habit to check your settings and be more vigilant with every little detail. All these discussions inevitably boil down to three vitally relevant tips:

  • Secure the meeting room with passwords and require authentication.
  • Avoid screen sharing.
  • Remove unwanted participants.