Have you been video conferencing in these days of social distancing? It’s pretty cool to see several people at once on the screen and be able to have a conversation as if everyone was in the same room. But we don’t want strangers in our meetings — and we’d all probably rather keep our information to ourselves. So let’s review some basic safety tips:
Use passwords and/or unique ID numbers for each meeting. If the conferencing service gives you these features, enable them for each meeting you host. If you’re not the host, ask whoever it is to do it. Other tools may be available to limit access to your video conference, like the ability to approve each participant before joining. Consider enabling those, too.
Keep the video conferencing software up to date. Many video conferencing companies are updating their software as they learn about vulnerabilities, so it’s important to have those patches and fixes. But, you should only accept updates directly from the service’s website. This is true, too, if you need to download a video conferencing app. You should only download it directly from the service’s website or a platform’s app store.
Don’t open unexpected video conference invitations. Hackers are sending emails mimicking video conferencing invitations. Those emails may have links that download malware on your computer or device. If you’re not expecting a video conference invitation, check first with the host separately. If you’re the host, tell the participants in advance that you’ll be sending the link.
Protect your privacy. Your camera and microphone may be on by default when you join a video conference, so check the settings in advance to learn how to mute yourself or turn off your camera if you need to. Also, keep in mind that your video conference may be recorded, so it’s best to avoid sharing private information via video conference. It’s also a good idea to review the service’s privacy policies to understand how your information will be handled.
A note about telehealth conferencing. If you’re conferencing remotely with a health care provider, ask about dedicated telehealth conferencing services that can include more safeguards to keep information private.
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