How Secure Is Video Conferencing?

By on Apr 06, 2020

As millions of people around the world practice social distancing and work their office jobs from home, video conferencing has quickly become the new norm. Whether you’re attending regular work meetings, partaking in a virtual happy hour with friends, or catching up with extended family across the globe, video conferencing is a convenient alternative to many of the activities we can no longer do in real life. But as the rapid adoption of video conferencing tools and apps occurs, is security falling by the wayside?  

Avoid Virtual Party Crashers

One security vulnerability that has recently made headlines is the ability for uninvited attendees to bombard users’ virtual meetings. How? According to Forbes, many users have posted their meeting invite links on social media sites like Twitter. An attacker can simply click on one of these links and interrupt an important conference call or meeting with inappropriate content.  

Ensure Data is in the Right Hands

Online conferencing tools allow users to hold virtual meetings and share files via chat. But according to Security Boulevard, communicating confidential business information quickly and privately can be challenging with these tools. For example, users are not always immediately available, even when working from home. In fact, many parents are simultaneously doubling as working parents and teachers with the recent closure of schools and childcare providers. If a user needs to share private information with a coworker but they are unable to connect by video or phone, they might revert to using a messaging platform that lacks end-to-end encryptiona feature that prevents third-party recipients from seeing private messages. This could lead to leaks or unintended sharing of confidential data, whether personal or corporate. What’s more, the lack of using a secure messaging platform could present a hacker with an opportunity to breach a victim’s data or deviceDepending on the severity of this type of breach, a victim could be at risk of identity theft 

Pay Attention to Privacy Policies

With the recent surge of new video conferencing users, privacy policies have been placed under a microscope. According to WIRED, some online conferencing tools have had to update their policies to reflect the collection of user information and meeting content used for advertising or other marketing efforts. Another privacy concern was brought to light by a video conferencing tool’s attention-tracking feature. This alerts the virtual meeting host when an attendee hasn’t had the meeting window in their device foreground for 30 seconds, resulting in users feeling that their privacy has been compromised.  

How to Secure Video Conferences

As users become accustomed to working from home, video conferencing tools will continue to become a necessary avenue for virtual communication. But how can users do so while putting their online security first? Follow these tips to help ensure that your virtual meetings are safeguarded:  

Do your research

There are plenty of video conferencing tools available online. Before downloading the first one you see, do your research and check for possible security vulnerabilities around the tools. Does the video conferencing tool you’re considering use end-to-end encryption? This ensures that only meeting participants have the ability to decrypt secure meeting content. Additionally, be sure to read the privacy policies listed by the video conferencing programs to find the one that is the most secure and fits your needs.  

Make your meetings password protected

To ensure that only invited attendees can access your meeting, make sure they are password protected. For maximum safety, activate passwords for new meetings, instant meetings, personal meetings, and people joining by phone. 

Block users from taking control of the screen

To keep users (either welcome or unwelcome) from taking control of your screen while you’re video conferencing, select the option to block everyone except the host (you) from screen sharing.  

Turn on automatic updates

By turning on automatic updates, you are guaranteed to have all the latest security patches and enhancements for your video conferencing tool as soon as they become available.  

Stay Updated

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About the Author

Judith Bitterli

Judith Bitterli currently serves as Vice President of Consumer Marketing at McAfee. She is a passionate advocate for online security, family safety and safeguarding our digital experiences. She has been in the security space for eight years and technology for over thirty years. She brings to her work a fundamental belief that online security is ...

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