How to Make Sure You and Your Data Are Safe During Video Calls

Last updated on May 4, 2020 Comments: 0
We have all started to use video calls with increasing frequency – even before the COVID19 crisis. While this has its huge benefits, whenever we start using an internet connection more, we are increasing our chances of being a victim of internet crime. It’s important that we remember this if we are spending yet more time on our phones or computers taking part in video conferences.

Here in this article, we look at how to make sure you and your data are safe during video calls. To do so, we investigate what video conferencing solutions are and why exactly you need to have video conferencing security best practices in place. From there, we explore what are some video conferencing best practices as well as how to ensure those best practices are employed in the home as well as for business.

What are Video Conferencing Solutions?

Video conferencing solutions are types of software that allow people to meet over an internet connection through video content. It is a great option for those that cannot meet face to face. Video conferencing solutions have many benefits to them including the need for reduced travel around the country or globe for business as well as allowing family and friends to see each other while having a conversation.

Video conferencing solutions have seen a huge surge in usage recently due to the COVID19 crisis, but its usage was increasing beforehand thanks to the improving technology available. Many of us use FaceTime or Whatsapp video calls as a matter of course now. Additionally, software solutions such as Zoom, Houseparty or Google Hangouts are also incredibly popular.

The Disadvantages of Video Conferencing

Security Breach

Unfortunately, with the advancements in technology in the past few decades, cybercriminals have been able to develop sophisticated hacking tools. This poses a threat of breach of security with video conferencing calls.

If adequate security measures are not taken, hackers are able to access confidential information of the company. This is something that has happened recently with the increasingly popular video conferencing platform, Zoom. Hackers have been sneaking into online meetings with profanities or explicit images for the past month.

According to Time,

“Much of our current reality is unchartered territory, and this growing dependence on Zoom at home is just another one,” said Mark Ostrowski, regional head of engineering for Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. “As soon as a platform’s attack surface gets big enough, you can only expect that they’ll become more interesting to attackers. That’s what’s happened to Zoom.”

Network Instability

Your internet connection might not always be perfect. It can lead to blurry image transmissions as well as the loss of vital visual cues. Sometimes you will not be able to see the other members in the meeting. This can be frustrating at best, but also deal-breaking at worst.

Audio Latency

Another problem with video conferencing is that there might be a delay in audio between attendees in different places.  This makes for quite stilted meetings and discussions, especially when comparing to face-to-face meetings.

Speaking of face-to-face meetings, more than half of our understanding comes from body language. Although it’s possible to see the other attendees, you’re won’t be able to recreate a connection made in real life communication.

You can make a few gestures to offset this such as look straight into the camera or some hand gestures to show interest, but it can never substitute a handshake or the exchange of smiles. This is why it is vital to perform negotiations in a traditional in-person meeting only.

Why Do You Need Secure Video Conferencing?

It is very important to secure video conferencing for so many different reasons. Just because it is a video, doesn’t mean that you do not need to protect the content. Video can be just as loaded with information as any of your other files or transmissions you make over an internet connection.

Here, we investigate further why exactly you need to secure video conferencing solutions.

Your company’s reputation

If your company is found not to have secure video conferencing, it leads you and your business wide open to data breaches by hackers and online criminals. Should this happen, and the breach was made well known, the damage done to your reputation can be huge.

From there, the number of customers approaching your business for whatever service or product you are selling can be materially diminished. This has immediate effects on your bottom line and profits, so having secure video conferencing in place is imperative to ensure that you are seen as a trustworthy company.

Protects you and your customers

One of the fundamental principles behind following video conferencing security best practices is to ensure that you and your customers are protected. This means that by ensuring that video conferencing solutions are all protected by stringent security measures, your customer’s data won’t be vulnerable to interception by hackers.

Should this information be intercepted by hackers, they are then able to use that data for their own illegal purposes, which can be varied in how serious they are. One of the worst for an individual to be a victim of is identity theft where credit card details and financial information is used to make purchases online that they cannot afford. From there, credit rating can be affected for the worse and this then has lasting implications on a person’s life.

For a company, if you have sensitive business information relayed through video – either live or on a saved file – this can have serious ramifications for your company should that information be intercepted by hackers. Hackers are not against using company sensitive information to hold a business to ransom or even selling the information they find to the highest bidder.

What are Video Conferencing Security Best Practices?

To ensure that your video conferencing solutions are secured at all times, there are a number of video conferencing security best practices that you should follow. While each one can help keep your information safe and secure, it is best to employ all of them in conjunction with one another to ensure the ultimate safety while online.

Use secure networks and/or devices

One of the main issues with video conferencing security is that we tend to do it on the move – especially in times where people are encouraged to work from home, like in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. This means that individuals are more likely to use unsecured networks that they cannot protect through their own password. This is particularly true if people are holding video conferences whilst traveling on a train, at the airport or even from the comfort of a coffee shop.

To be the safest that you can be online while using video conferencing solutions, it is imperative that you and anyone in your business make use of secure networks as well as devices. This means only using internet connections that they know and have been secured with its own passwords. The same goes for devices. All devices need to be secured through the use of password protection so that should they go missing (as can so easily be the case with laptops and mobiles) the information saved upon them cannot be accessed.

Have strong passwords and password management systems

For networks and devices to be secured through a password, it is imperative that those passwords be strong enough to be effective. Users of video conferencing solutions should make use of password management systems to ensure that they are using the strongest passwords at all times – and to help ensure that passwords for different applications vary.

This means that hackers cannot immediately access one application or video conference by knowing the password to another one that a person has on their phone, computer or other devices. Password management systems are a key way to ensure that password protection can be as powerful as possible.

Use the most up to date video conferencing solutions

To make sure that you are as secure as you can be when using video conferencing solutions, you need to ensure you are using the most up to date version of the software you have. In doing so, you know that you have the least vulnerable software application possible at your disposal. Earlier versions of any applications will have some weaknesses that are increasingly more known to online criminals and hackers.

By using the most up to date versions of your solutions at all times, you are helping work towards protection of your data as the software solution itself is naturally better at warding off online attacks from criminals.

Educate staff

Perhaps one of the most overlooked yet important measures to have in place at a company that needs to secure video conferencing is to educate its staff and personnel on security measures whilst online. So often, staff are left to learn video conferencing security best practices through learning on the job. This simply isn’t a robust enough strategy for a company to have in place.

In leaving staff to their own devices, they cannot be relied on to know that passwords need to be strong and changed through password management systems. They cannot be relied on to know what a secure network is versus an unsecured network. They cannot be relied on to know why protecting devices with strong passwords is so important and what the ramifications are if they lose a mobile device or laptop.

Educating staff is, therefore, a way of protecting them, your customers and your business from online attacks either through your video conferencing solutions or other applications. Arming your staff with the knowledge and understanding of their lack of sensitivity to the need for following security protocols can be a crucial and essential part of minimizing your company’s online security breaches and leaks.

Encryption

Encrypting your data for online video conferencing is imperative if you want your video conferences to be as secure as they can be and protect yourself against having the information transmitted intercepted. It is when data is transmitted over the internet that it is at its most vulnerable to inception. Ensuring that it is encrypted so that, should it be illegally intercepted by an online criminal, it is illegible is a key method to making sure your data is safe.

There are several ways to encrypt your data and VPNs can be a good way to help do this as a high-quality piece of VPN software will come with encryption as standard as well as several other security measures too. For example, a VPN will help secure your network as well as encrypt your data during transmission.

Data storage

Finally, make sure that your video files, when saved, are as secure as they can be. There is usually a great deal of sensitive information saved within a video file and you need to make sure that that file is just as safe from hackers as any other would be. Many of us and many companies are starting to increase their usage of cloud storage solutions and while these have many benefits to outweigh more traditional storage solutions, you need to ensure that the security of your cloud storage is effective and efficient.

What is Home Video Conferencing?

Home video conferencing is similar in many ways to video conferencing that businesses partake in. It is simply individuals using video conferencing as a way of communicating as opposed to audio calls or emails. The majority of people with a smartphone will have undoubtedly taken part in their own home video conferencing if they have used the video call function through Whatsapp, used FaceTime or simply used video conferencing applications like HouseParty or Zoom to call friends and family. The rise of COVID19 increased the amounts that home video conferencing occurred with more and more people aware of the video conferencing solutions available to them.

However, while some of the security risks that are present with home video conferencing are the same for those who use video conferencing for business purposes, there are a number of security risks that are heightened to individuals using video conferencing for personal reasons. The main one being that, if you do not secure your network and device and make use of encryption, it is perfectly possible for hackers to gain access to your camera and view the call or conference that you are on.

The thought of this and this huge invasion of privacy is understandably unwanted by anyone using video conferencing. But what hackers can use viewing through a person’s camera for can be pretty terrifying. Not only can they find out sensitive information on you which can help in their want to commit identity theft, but they can also film what you are transmitting through your camera and possibly use it for blackmail purposes.

How Can I Stay Secure During Home Video Conferencing

The security measures that an individual can use to stay secure during a home video conference are fundamentally the same as those that a company should use. However, an individual needs to come up with a robust strategy to ensure that they stay on top of everything they need to do to ensure they are protected. This is even more important if you have a family using the same network as you and home video conferencing as well. If you have a family, you do not want a hacker to gain illegal access to your family’s cameras on their devices.

To maintain this robust strategy, it is key to stay educated and knowledgeable about the security risks that are posed to you. Ensure as well that you inform and educate those within your home with relevant information too.  Additionally, making sure that you regularly update all your software and maintain a password management system across all your household members is essential too. Finally, don’t forget that it is key to protect all devices within your household as well. This is the same for laptops, desktop computers, and mobiles or any tablets you may have. A VPN can be great for any computer including laptops or tablets.

Video Conferencing Security Best Practices

Video conferencing is an increasingly useful way of doing business. For those that have to work from home or for those that need to work remotely, it can be a lifeline in increasing their productivity and efficiency in fulfilling their jobs. With the onset and rise of COVID19 to pandemic levels, the amount of people working from home has required a much larger population around the globe to be competent video conference users.

However, it does not necessarily always follow that the growth of video conferencing users matches the growth of safe or secure video conference users. Yet, it is of paramount importance to everyone that video conferencing does not become a vulnerability that hackers take advantage of to infiltrate networks and get their hands on sensitive data.

By following the above recommendations as a matter of course, you will be making sure that you and your data are safe during video calls at all times. In doing so, you will be able to ensure that you, your business or your household never fall victim to a crime committed by an online criminal. Video conferencing is an incredibly useful tool, but it will only remain useful as long as it is used in a secure manner at all times.

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