This year, people have more video calls than ever before. We use them for work meetings, to learn how to make mom’s special apple pie, and to have a drink with our friends. Even late-night TV show hosts are using them to interview their guests. We change our communication methods because we must adapt to the changing world. Unfortunately, with the growth of digital communication, cyber threats are also rearing their ugly heads. Here are a few tips you can use to stay safe on a video chat.
Cybersecurity risks in video conferencing
At the beginning of April, Zoom, one of the most popular video conferencing services, had a ton of security-related problems. Most of them revolved around poor encryption and data protection.
Zoom always stated that it offers end-to-end encryption. However, it turned out to be far from the truth. It only encrypts data in transit, and to make matters worse, the developers have encryption keys that allow Zoom to decrypt its users’ data.
Another problem Zoom had to deal with was so prominent it even has its own name — zoombombing. It’s a type of photobombing where hackers and regular internet trolls would get into people’s video conferences and post malicious links, pornographic images, or use obscene language.
Weak encryption combined with bugs in some of Zoom’s apps also led to 500,000 of its users’ credentials ending up for sale on the dark web. It doesn’t help that Zoom is known to collect and sell users’ data to third parties — without informing them about it.
Even though Zoom was quick to react and patch most of these vulnerabilities, new exploits are likely to arise all the time — both in Zoom and other video chat services. Therefore, you should always keep tabs on the latest cybersecurity news. Otherwise, you risk your private conversations, passwords, and business secrets ending up online.
What you can do to protect yourself
Make sure to install the newest version of the app the moment it’s available. Updates include security patches that are vital if you want to stay safe online.
Never share the meeting link or ID publicly — send it to the people participating in the call only. If your app allows it, set a password for your meeting. Need help with creating a strong password? Try our password generator.
Utilize other features your video conferencing app offers. Some have a virtual waiting room where you can approve every person. Others allow you to disable participant’s cameras and microphones and even kick them out. Learn about all the features and how to use them to stay safe.
Never accept video conference invites from people you don’t know. It might be a scam or a catfishing attempt, so it’s best to stay away from people you don’t know.
Always be mindful of what you say and show during a video call. Remember, everything can be recorded, and you never know where it will end up. So, don’t share any information that’s too personal or sensitive. Look for safer methods to discuss business secrets.
Even though many video conferencing apps offer encrypted video calls, you should still take additional safety measures and do some research. Make sure they don’t have any known vulnerabilities, the encryption protocols they use are bulletproof, and your own device is not infected with malware. If someone has control over your computer or phone, they will be able to listen in on your calls even with end-to-end encryption. Scan your devices regularly to make sure they are safe to use.
Be careful with apps you never heard of. Only download them from official app stores, and always check whether the developer is trustworthy before installing it. Hackers are known to create fake versions of popular apps that infect your phone with malware.
Usage of various video conferencing platforms is skyrocketing, and cybercriminals have their eyes set on them. Therefore, never reuse passwords, change them regularly, and come up with strong, complex passwords for your most sensitive accounts. If you need help remembering them — use a password manager to store them all safely.