Security Management

Video Conferencing: Are you secure?

Author: Phillip Davies
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We have all seen a huge uptake in the use of video conferencing this year and this may well be with us to stay. Are there security and privacy implications?

Whilst businesses often have preferred services, most of us are communicating with people from other businesses with their own preferred service and communicating with people more and more this way in our personal life. We are using many different services and often on the same device. Last week, like many of us I had video calls in a single day on Teams, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, WebEx, Messenger and Facetime, switching at points from one to another in seconds. Does this matter? And what should we be thinking about?

Easier said than done but do try and familiarise yourself with the security and privacy settings for the services you might be using ahead of time. All services provide easy to find guidance on their various offerings and it is worth finding that time before the call to ensure you are comfortable with the basics. Don’t forget the basics either. What device am I using, does my device allow my webcam and speakers access to the service? Don’t forget to test the sound and the camera view. Test it first. It’s common for those that don’t to have to run that last-minute driver or software download. Rushing this when you are late into a meeting is not ideal, not least because you won’t be considering the privacy and security warnings presented to you during a rushed installation.

What is likely to be visible behind me whilst I am on a call, can those in the meeting see confidential data?

With a 350% rise this year in phishing, don’t forget, never open links when they are not expected, including video call links. Don’t get caught out. Are you using a web browser for the service? Many people are. Consider closing other open tabs and applications running in the background, such as chat and email services, so you don’t inadvertently share more than you intended.

Then there is screen sharing. How often on a call have you seen content you are not supposed to see? If you intend to share your screen do close other documents and applications so you know what you want to share and where it is. Test this before and don’t get caught out sharing that sensitive document not intended for the call you are on. Once seen its never forgotten. Especially if the call is being recorded.

Check whether the call is being recorded. If someone intends to record, they should ask consent of all on the call. Recording calls is becoming more common and has obvious benefits but do ensure you know and remember YOU are being recorded.

Some useful privacy tips here from a variety of privacy regulators:
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission
US Federal Trade Commission 
Canadian Privacy Commissioner
UK Information Commissioner

Phillip CISO

Phillip Davies


Phillip led Cyber Crime for a UK Law Enforcement agency until 2005. Since then he has led privacy, risk & security for a variety of businesses, as Chief Security Officer & Advisor to boards. He holds an MSc in International Criminal Justice, is a Certified Information Security Manager, Fellow of The Security Institute, Fellow of the British Computer Society & Chartered Institute of IT, member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals. In 2017 was awarded the Freedom of the City of London.​

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