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30 security tips for video conferences

Are you using video conferencing? Chances are you have been over the past year. As business, school and home life have changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic many of us have been using such platforms for work meetings, classes and even socialising.

However, while they’re easy to set up and use and offer fantastic advantages there have been problems with security breaches, with troublemakers disrupting meetings and cyber criminals looking to gain a useful foothold in our lives. That’s why we’ve put together these 30 security tips to ensure you stay safe and sound when next using these great tech tools.

Video Call

These tools are incredibly versatile and can be accessed with a range of devices including desktop computers, tablets, laptops, smartphones and many more. Whatever gadgets you use for video conferencing, you’ll want to make sure they’re all covered by our Defaqto 5-star rated insurance for gadgets.

Arranging a policy through us means all your tech is covered in the event it breaks down, is accidentally damaged or even stolen. Speak to our experienced team of insurance specialists today for a quote.

How safe are video conferences? What are the risks?

While video conferencing technology provides us with the ability to connect with others both personally and professionally, it still has risks.

Perhaps the most well-known risk is that of uninvited intruders ‘hijacking’ meetings to disrupt them and post abusive messages or material. Newspapers worldwide have reported on countless such instances over the past year.

But while these events are clearly very upsetting, a less publicised risk posed by video conferencing calls is that of hacking by cyber criminals. Not only can this damage you on a personal level (such as the theft of personal information and breach of your privacy), but it can also be incredibly expensive. Particularly if you’re using the technology for your work or business.

Gadget insurance from Gadget Cover is of vital importance if the loss, theft or breakdown of such gadgets would harm your business.

Questions to ask yourself before using video conferencing

Is there end-to-end encryption?

This level of encryption secures your online communications so they can only be seen by you and the other users involved and no other third parties. Even the app itself can’t spy on your meeting!

Can video calls be intercepted and recorded by a third-party?

Are other people able to access your video call and potentially record it? It’s up to you to be aware of who can join your calls, and how you can stop them from getting in.

How is your account data used?

Privacy and data protection are huge issues for both businesses and individuals. What kind of data is being collected by the app and who else can access your data?

Where is your app data stored?

When it comes to sensitive information and documents it’s important to know whether the data is being stored on your computer, your phone or elsewhere?

Are there in-app surveillance options?

For example, some apps allow hosts to monitor if a user clicks away from an app window for any length of time. These features can be used to check in on the behaviour of employees, students, or other users. Is this acceptable? Are you happy with this?

Is there potential for downloading malware?

Could you unknowingly download an app that gives a cyber criminal access to your gadget’s camera and microphone? This is a popular way for hackers to steal personal information and sell it on.

30 security tips to protect your video conference calls

To help protect yourself against many of these risks, here are 30 top tips for you to use right now. While different video conferencing platforms will have different safeguards in place, many of these useful tips will remain relevant.

  1. Don’t over share

It’s all too easy to over share when chatting with friends or trusted work colleagues. However, be aware there’s always a risk someone else could see a recording of the call or may even be lurking unannounced in the background. Revealing any unnecessary personal information could leave you at risk.

  1. Take care with the invitation link

All too often people make the mistake of including a link in a public social media post, group emails, or online profiles. This leaves you vulnerable to unwanted guests! Use the video conferencing software itself to invite other attendees. And ask them never to share the link.

  1. Set up alerts to monitor link sharing

It’s important to make sure any additional attendees have a legitimate reason to be there. If it looks like the invite is being shared unnecessarily, then simply schedule a new meeting with new log-in details.

  1. Pick a strong password for your account

Having a strong password is a huge part of protecting your online accounts and activity. And the same goes for video conferencing. If you’re looking for tips on how to choose strong passwords for your devices then read our handy guide.

  1. Password Protect your meeting

Stop unwanted attendees by setting up a password to access your meeting. Passwords can often be set at the individual meeting, user, group, or account levels. Many apps will let you set up a password for an individual meeting so all participants will be required to enter the password before joining.

  1. Choose end-to-end encryption

There should be an option to choose end-to-end encryption as part of your app tools. This means no-one else can spy on your communications. Apps offering end-to-end encryption include Google Duo, FaceTime, GoToMeeting, WhatsApp, Zoom, and many others.

  1. Keep your software up to date

Another general tech safety tip that’s also vital for video conferencing safety is the need to regularly update your apps. Many of these apps are constantly being reviewed for security vulnerabilities. If you’re using an older, out-of-date version of the app then you won’t get the benefit of any bug fixes or security patches.

Remember, keeping your video conference app as well as your device updated is one of the best ways to stay secure against hackers. It’s also easy and very straightforward. Indeed, most of the time, you don’t have to do anything except tap to confirm the updates.

  1. Encourage other meeting participants to stay updated

It’s good practice to encourage other meeting participants to also keep updated. Remember, security is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain.

  1. Lock meetings once everyone has joined

This can get difficult for large meetings or where people drop in and out of meetings for different reasons. However, it’s a good way of staying in control. Particularly as once the meeting is underway, if you haven’t locked down, someone could sneak in without you noticing.

  1. Use waiting room features

By using a virtual waiting room before the meeting starts a host is able to admit only those people who are supposed to be attending. Identify any unknown attendees before continuing with the meeting.

  1. Get to know the software

While not everyone is tech-savvy, everyone who uses these tools should take the time to explore the settings, check their user profile, and see if there’s anything they need to change. If you don’t understand something then ask someone who does. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to online security.

  1. Enable extra privacy features

Depending on the software, there could be a whole host of features to let you set your own levels of security. Many are not enabled by default, while some are only available on the desktop rather than mobile versions. For example, on FaceTime, you can control whether other people can find you via a phone number or an email address.

  1. Beware of dodgy downloads

Always download such apps from the official App Store for Apple devices and Google Play for Android devices. Learn how to identify fake apps, check for ratings and user reviews, when it was last updated and contact information of the developer.

  1. Stick to trusted contacts

Make sure the person you’re calling is trustworthy before you share anything private with them. Don’t accept meeting requests or calls from unknown numbers.

  1. If you’re hosting, don’t allow others to join before you

To keep control of the meetings you host, don’t allow others to join before you have arrived.

  1. Turn off screen sharing

Disabling the ability for attendees to share their screens will stop inappropriate images being shared and disrupting your meeting. You can always turn this back on if needed.

  1. Check your screen before sharing

If you do decide to share your screen with other participants, be very careful of what other web pages or documents you have open at the time. It’s all too easy for sensitive personal or financial information to be accidentally shared.

  1. Be careful of your background

You might not want others to see objects, photographs or anything else of a personal nature. Many apps offer you the chance to change the background behind you or otherwise obscure it.

  1. Take care when opening links or attachments

Just as with text messages and emails, it’s important to check you’re not downloading malware or anything else harmful.

  1. Set up multi-factor authentication

Anything that makes it harder for cyber criminals to access your devices or online accounts is worth doing. Multi-factor authentication puts in a vital extra barrier to prevent hacking.

Home conference

  1. Close the app when you’ve finished

Make sure you close the app down completely once you’re finished chatting. It’s also good practice to cover your webcam when it’s not in use.

  1. Prevent recordings

Block attendees from recording the meeting or set up alerts so you can know if someone has started recording.

  1. Check permissions

You may not have realised it but you might have given the app permission to share your data with third parties such as advertisers or partners. You might also have made it easier for strangers to find you, join your group or room or leave you a message.

  1. Only use video if necessary

Do other participants really need to see you? If not, then turning off your webcam and listening in via audio could be wise. It will not only stop others from finding out more than they need to, but will also save on network bandwidth – improving the overall quality of the meeting.

  1. Could you use a webcast instead?

Webcasting is more like an online conference where people can watch a presentation and then pose questions to the presenter or other attendees. It gives a lot more control to hosts and can be very useful for large meetings.

  1. Stay clear of public Wi-Fi networks

Hackers love public Wi-Fi networks for the ability to get access to unsecured devices.

  1. Never let your phone be used by someone else

Video conferencing is yet another way a cyber criminal can cause trouble. Giving someone the opportunity to gain physical access to your phone could make you and your contacts a target.

If you let family members use your phone then be aware that gadget insurance from Gadget Cover can be extended to your immediate family. So, if your partner or child loses or damages your phone you’re also covered!

  1. Download antivirus protection

This is a great way to guard against viruses, protect passwords and private documents, and to encrypt the data you send and receive online.

  1. Remove unknown or nuisance attendees if appropriate

If someone is disrupting your meeting then as the host it’s up to you to deal with the situation professionally and appropriately.

  1. Get insured with Gadget Cover

If your gadget gets damaged, lost or stolen then it could affect the security of your video meetings. So, taking out appropriate gadget insurance has to be one of your top priorities.

A specialist gadget insurance policy will give you comprehensive cover. Plus, you’ll receive additional benefits like worldwide cover to include use of your gadget anywhere in the world, up to 180 days in any one year. We’ll even replace any accessories (up to £150) if they’re lost, stolen or damaged at the same time as your gadget.

Get a quick quote for gadget insurance today!

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

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