Video conferencing has never been more popular and is now used in almost every industry. While the convenience of this technology is obvious, it also poses a privacy risk. People often attend meetings they shouldn’t be in, and sensitive information is often unnecessarily shared. Video conferencing platforms have features that prevent both of these problems from occurring. However, this functionality is not always used.
So how do you use video conferencing without sharing the wrong information? Here are 12 ways to make video conferencing private.
1. Use a waiting room
When hosting a meeting, you should always use a waiting room. Most video conferencing tools have this feature. Once turned on, anyone trying to join a meeting will first be asked to wait. This allows the meeting organizer to personally verify all attendees. Provided the organizer is careful, this makes unauthorized participation impossible.
2. Use random meeting IDs
Meeting IDs are often reused. That’s handy, of course, but it also means that anyone who knows the ID of the previous meeting can show up uninvited. Most video conferencing platforms allow you to generate random IDs. They also allow you to set up password protection. Once set up, each participant will need both the meeting ID and password to join.
3. Use virtual backgrounds
Virtual backgrounds are great for both hiding your location and preventing anything in the background from being seen. This is especially important in business environments where you may have sensitive documents. But it’s also useful if you don’t want attendees to find out where you live. If you want to use a virtual background, you should check the settings of your video conferencing app. You can also download additional apps specially designed for this purpose.
4. Turn off your camera or microphone
When you join a meeting, most video conferencing platforms turn on your camera and microphone by default. However, you can usually customize the settings to leave them off by default. It’s also possible to turn them off manually and still stay in the meeting. This is useful when you don’t want people to be able to see or hear you while you’re not contributing.
5. Avoid links in chat rooms
Chat rooms are useful for some types of communication, but they can be more harmful than video conferencing. In a chat room, you can share both links and files. Any of these options can be used to spread malware. Chat rooms are also ideal for launching phishing attacks. Before you click anything in a chat room, you should verify who sent it.
If you are the meeting organizer, you can disable this feature entirely.
6. Understand private chats
Private chats can also pose a privacy risk if you don’t understand how they work. Many video conferencing tools have a transcription feature. When enabled, all private messages that occur during a meeting are recorded and made available to the meeting host. This means that private chats are not really private. Therefore, avoid saying anything in a private chat that you would not say publicly.
7. Don’t promote meetings on social media
Video conferencing should only be discussed in private communication. Unfortunately, they are often advertised on social media. This is of course faster than contacting the participants individually, but it also shows the meeting ID to strangers. When attending a publicly announced meeting, you should always exercise extra caution. This may be an indication that other basic security practices are not being followed.
8. Ask permission to record
Important video conferences are often recorded. There are many valid reasons for this, but it is important that all participants are made aware of this. Most video conferencing tools provide an icon that can be used to indicate that a recording is in progress. However, when you join a meeting, these icons are not always used.
9. Be careful with screen sharing
Screen sharing is an important productivity tool, but it also has obvious privacy downsides. Before enabling screen sharing, check your screen for anything that might contain sensitive information. Screen sharing can also be disabled by the meeting host, preventing uninvited guests from causing a disruption.
10. Keep the software up to date
Video conferencing platforms are growing in popularity, making them popular targets for hackers. All platforms are updated regularly, which ensures that vulnerabilities are patched as soon as they are discovered. You should install these updates as soon as they are released.
Some hackers advertise fake versions of these apps, so you should only download video conferencing apps from the provider’s website and make sure they are verified as genuine.
11. Protect your computer and your wireless network
Your video conferences are only as secure as the computer and internet connection you use. If your computer contains malware or you’re connected to the internet over an unencrypted Wi-Fi connection, a malicious actor might be able to record what you’re saying. To avoid malware, be careful what you download and use reputable antivirus software. Also avoid unencrypted WiFi hotspots or install a VPN.
12. Report suspicious activity
If you see someone acting suspiciously in a video conference, always report it to the meeting organizer. Uninvited guests are a common occurrence in video conferences and rely on other participants not being careful. Many people assume that the host prevents uninvited guests, but they are often busy with other tasks. It is therefore the responsibility of all participants to be vigilant.
Video conferencing isn’t always private
Video conferencing is becoming a requirement for many jobs. When used incorrectly, you can easily reveal more information about yourself than you’d like. But there are many ways you can prevent this from happening.
It’s important to understand that when joining a virtual meeting, it’s not always possible to tell who is watching. Both your video feed and your behavior should therefore be optimized to reveal as little about yourself as possible.
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