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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.

Are you using video conferencing services as part of your business operations? You’ll want to read the business blog, Video conferencing: 10 privacy tips for your business.

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April 16, 2020
thank you. Suggest instructions may baffle readers who are not experienced in online video conferencing apps, such as myself. I decline ANY video conferencing offers/invitations. Fortunately, I am retired, so I don't NEED to learn. However, again, thank you for the information you provide. I usually forward to friends and colleagues.
April 16, 2020

In reply to by LeaC

I’m retired too. Don’t write off learning to be tech smart just because you are older. Follow advice from here, CNET and Techwalla. Wired magazine and even AARP’s magazine has excellent tips.
April 16, 2020
In the last couple of weeks, our daughter who lives in South Carolina. As we are "facetimeing" there a flash as though someone just took a picture of us !!! We believe we are being invaded by someone taking our pictures. Will someone please, please check into this.
April 16, 2020
It was said the Media Companies would continue to stay on in homes so we could have some news and some entertainment during these home inclusion days but don't believe them!! They don't care if we are working or not! They still want their money or they will turn you OFF.. This is going on Twitter!
April 16, 2020
For the FaceTime comment, if you are using an Apple App for this, contact Apple technical support for assistance in making this app more secure.
April 17, 2020
How does a person get help from Dr's when they have no computer. I talked to a Dr by land line. But all want a video chat , how can poor, elder and an illiterate or blind communicate. What are we going to do for the knowledge of technical issues we are living ? If help is needed, what do we have to do? Poor people have no computer nor knowledge. Need to know
April 17, 2020
FTC: Please describe what constitutes secure video conference connections. How can a participant know they are on a secure connection? How can a participant know their participation is actually private? How can a meeting host know they are conducting a secure meeting? What standards do Government agencies like the FTC expect when they conduct video conferencing? In the final analysis, who is libel if hosts and participants fulfill privacy protocol and damaging use is made of recovered or hacked recordings? Is video conferencing secure for medical and counselors? What should a patient expect from their medical provider if asked to participate in video conferencing? As always, FTC is an essential reference for its subscribers in alerting to potential hazards and this topic is only now becoming a common threat. Excellent warning on email that offer 'trial' or 'free' look experiences. Curiosity and inexperience are a dangerous combination with this new avenue for communications. Thanks again.
April 21, 2020
This is very helpful. As a changed careers person we must all keep updated.