Using video conferencing safely and securely

8 Apr 2020 - 11:30

Video conferencing has become a core part of staying connected to each other. It is being used to conduct meetings locally and abroad, and will soon play a critical role in teaching and learning at South African universities.

That’s why we all need to play our part in ensuring that we take the necessary security measures when using the wide array of available tools – including Skype for Business, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and others.

Safety recommendations

Video conferencing tools allow you to interact via audio, video, and instant messaging. You can also share your screen and collaborate on files in real-time. Each tool has a range of functions to help you work effectively. However, cybercriminals are aware of these too, and depending on your remote work setup, they could intercept information via your home wireless network.

We have compiled a list of things to remember when setting up or participating in web conferences.

  • Set up meetings using a secure option such as Outlook. It is reliable, works and has the option to set up meetings via Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams. If you’re using any other application, simply include the login instructions at the bottom of the meeting invitation.
  • Avoid sharing online meeting links on public websites or social media.
  • Choose your video conferencing tool carefully when discussing confidential information. Rather stick to those supported by ICTS, and don’t discuss sensitive matters with those not privy to that information.
  • Ensure that only invited delegates are part of the video call. If you’re using a platform that doesn’t automatically list participants’ names, ask each participant to identify themselves. Alternatively, if you’re using Zoom, provide attendees with a password to participate or use the waiting room functionality.
  • Mute your mic when not speaking during a video conference call. This ensures that there are no distracting background noises, and that you and others can clearly hear the speaker.
  • Use headphones when in public spaces, especially if sensitive information is being discussed. You never know who could be listening. Alternatively, sit in a private room where you can’t be overheard.
  • Check your camera placement before partaking in a video call. Try to only show your face, so that no private or confidential information can be seen by participants. Some applications such as Microsoft Teams include a ‘blur background’ feature you can use.
  • Before sharing your screen, make sure that only the document or application that you want to show is visible. This way, participants won’t be able to see what else you’re working on.
  • Control who can participate in the meeting (i.e. share content, request screen sharing access, publicly speak, etc.) using the tool’s provided settings.
  • Always ensure that your video conferencing tools are up to date to minimise any loopholes for cybercriminals to violate your privacy.

Remember: it is up to each one of us to ensure that our data and the UCT network remains secure.