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How to Protect Yourself on Video Calls

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in CrimeNovember 24, 2020
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With everyone working remotely these days and families celebrating the holidays “virtually,” it’s more important than ever to know how to protect yourself on video calls. 

Video Calls and the Danger

In a rush to re-connect during the pandemic, people started using video platforms in droves without really learning about them or how to safeguard their private information and keep things secure. The most popular platform being used currently is Zoom. However, there have been numerous complaints of privacy and security issues connected with Zoom. 

There are a few ways that hackers and thieves can invade your private video calls and wreak havoc with your identity. Let’s explore them now.

ZoomBombing

ZoomBombing is something that we started seeing pop up all over this summer. Even children’s classrooms had ZoomBombers show up and post inappropriate content in the middle of the schoolday. So what is ZoomBombing? It’s when an uninvited guest hacks his or her way into your Zoom call and posts unwanted content or interrupts the meeting by making noise or displaying offense images. 

Even more alarmingly, they may just hang back and eavesdrop to spy on everyone hoping to glean some personal information for identity theft or fraud. 

You can easily avoid ZoomBombing by disabling “public” screen sharing. Remember, when setting up a video call and inviting participants, do not publicly share the meeting link. Anyone with the link can join the call.

Eavesdropping - The Solution End-to-End Encryption

Unfortunately, if hackers can enter your call and listen in, they could be privy to personal secrets or information that could be damaging. Most video conferencing platforms include some type of security, but you might have to adjust your privacy and security settings to ensure you are protected. Turning on end-to-end encryption is the safest way to protect audio, video, and shared files and resources. 

Apple’s FaceTime app and the hardware that runs it is currently the only platform to offer end-to-end encryption, so it is by far the safest option for private conversions you want out of the hands of hackers. 

Although Zoom has had some security issues, other third-party options do offer better security and encryption. Zoom is also working hard to fix their issues.

Steps to Secure Your Video Conference Calls

A few additional items to help you secure your video conference calls include:

Check all your security settings. The first step is to make sure you have kept everything private and turn on the maximum security settings for your platform and device. Even if you are rushed for time, take a few extra seconds to check settings to ensure that you and your participants are protected.

Pay close attention to any screenshots taken during the call.It is sometimes essential to memorialize the call or specific content points but be sure your screenshots don’t expose personally identifiable information (PII) like someone’s driver’s license lying on the table or other sensitive data. 

Learn the platform before using it. Regardless of what type of video conferencing software and hardware you decide to use, well before the call, learn how to use it. Check out all the settings, try a test call with a friend to make sure you know what you are doing and won’t make any embarrassing blunders during the call. 

Never share your meeting link publicly. Although it might be tempting to post it on social media or other convenient online locations, not only will your intended audience see it, but strangers, hackers, and even thieves might also. 

Always set a meeting passcode. Be sure to set up a meeting passcode so that only those with the proper code can enter. This alone could keep your meeting from being ZoomBombed. 

Be choosy about the service you select. When selecting a video conferencing platform, look around, do some research, and read reviews. If you find a lot of complaints, move onto the next one. Look for easy-to-use options that provide plenty of features and functionality and keep your privacy intact while prioritizing security. Also, be sure to read their privacy policy and see how the company will store and use your data as a user.

Set your background. If your video call is with strangers or for a job interview, set the room up so you have a minimal background (or use one of Zoom’s built-in backgrounds) and hide any personal items that could potentially leave you vulnerable to fraud or identity theft. When you are on camera, the less they see, the better. 

Some other quick tips for security and privacy include: 

  • Always keep your Zoom app updated.
  • Set up two-factor authentication.
  • Research how to remove participants if someone invades your meeting.
  • Get consent before recording the call. 
  • Keep your microphone muted unless you are speaking. Turn off the video whenever you need to leave the room.
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