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  • Securing your video conferences - COVID-19

Securing your video conferences - COVID-19

03 May 2020

In the time when everyone is following social distancing, the usage of online video conferencing has emerged as an excellent alternative for a face-to-face meeting. This has enabled the world to reduce carbon footprint and have virtual meetings for collaboration and business. 

While video conferencing is not a new concept, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused the demand for virtual communication to be at an all-time high. As a result, many organizations had to mandate remote work policies. Working from home has employees accessing data with potentially less secure equipment and connections. As organizations using video conferencing platforms are on the rise, the information shared during these meetings are increasingly more vulnerable to cyber-attackers.

The good news is that many video conferencing platforms include security settings that can prevent such incidents. 

Here are the some of the tips to secure your video conferences:

  • Mandate passwords: Make passwords mandatory for all your meetings to protect against uninvited guests and secure information shared during the meeting. This is a simple and effective way to secure your meetings.
  • Verify participants: Double-check the meeting invites before it is sent out and ensure that you review the participants who join these meetings. For sensitive meetings where confidential information is shared, increase security by requiring participants to authenticate by logging in before they can join the meeting.
  • Hosting Meetings: Make sure that the session does not start without the host. Hold non-organizational users in the "lobby" until the host lets the attendee enter. The host will see a notification when attendees are waiting in the lobby and as the host, you can authorize the attendees to join.
  • Avoid clicking unexpected meeting invitations: When receiving a meeting invitation, verify that it's from a known and trusted source. Hover over the link before clicking and be mindful of malicious links, like those that contain ".exe" files. We have seen a rise in phishing attempts where malicious links have the names of video conferencing platforms embedded. However, instead of being linked to the meeting, the link leads to phony login sites. 
  • Securely share your screen: While using the screen sharing feature, do not allow all participants to share by default. Once a meeting begins, the host can enable specific participants to share when appropriate. This keeps the host in control and prevents hackers from sharing images. Further, only share an application (e.g. PowerPoint presentation, Web browsers, etc.) instead of sharing your entire screen, this is to prevent accidental exposure of sensitive information on your screen.
  • Updated software: Make sure your video conferencing software is patched with the latest vendor-provided updates. Cyber-attackers and scammers are more likely using older versions of the software. Confirm that all participants are consistently updating their software to the latest version.
  • Use secured settings: Review and enable appropriate security and privacy settings for video conferencing software to prevent threat actors from exploiting known vulnerabilities. Refer to your organizational policy and vendor recommended settings to ensure appropriate security.
  • Keep Kids Secure: As kids are connecting via video conferencing for school and other activities, parents can help them do so securely and teach them how to be safe online. Talk to kids about not chatting with strangers or giving out private and personal information. 
  • Report Suspicious Activity: Remember to report any suspicious activity to your corporate Information Security and Information Technology teams. If you are using an external video conferencing technology for non-work-related calls, reach out to the vendor for the best way to report suspicious activities. 
  • Cover your laptop camera: Before you start the video conference, double-check the setting you want for camera, mic and speaker. This puts you in control if you wish to share your camera video/voice or not. You can also use camera shutter/tape to close the webcam lens, if doubtful.

Video conferencing allows us to have real-time human interaction during this era of social distancing. However, it's essential to have the right technology and a secure environment in place to protect your organization and its employees against malicious attacks. The surge in video conferencing during these unprecedented times shows us the power of being digitally connected, making online security more important than ever.