Staying Secure While Video Conferencing During COVID-19

By BDO Digital| April 20, 2020
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 some tips to keep your organization safe:
  • No matter what platform your organization choose, review the security and privacy settings. Enforcing appropriate security and privacy settings prevents attackers from exploiting known vulnerabilities. 

  • When hosting meetings, the session should not start without the host. Many platforms are offering a waiting room feature that holds participants in separate virtual rooms before the meeting begins. Using the waiting room feature allows the host to admit selected users, adding another layer of protection and security. 

  • Require participant passwords for all meetings. Mandatory passwords will protect against uninvited guests and secure information shared during the meeting. Some platforms auto-generate passwords in addition to meeting room IDs for each video conference, while others allow individual creation of a password. If the platform allows the host to create passwords, use best practices – choose a random string of numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and symbols; avoid simplistic passwords at all cost.   

  • If the meeting is being recorded, make sure to notify all participants. Ensure that the recording is only available to the respective parties and they should be stored in a controlled environment protected by permission and encryptions.

  • Check conference links before accepting. Avoid accepting links on large postings or social media platforms. 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 being linked to the meeting, the link leads to phony login sites. Reminding attendees to verify links before accepting can protect against malicious scams. 

  • While using the screen sharing feature, do not allow all participants to share by default. Most platforms have settings that let the host choose who manages the screen sharing. Once a meeting begins, the host can allow specific participants to share when appropriate. This keeps the host in control and prevents hackers from sharing images.   

  • Use the most updated software available. 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.  

  • Lock your meeting once all participants have joined the video conference. If a participant accidentally drops out of the meeting, unlock and re-lock once he/she has returned. Having the meeting locked keeps conversations confidential, prevents important information from being leaked and secures the location. Many platforms are now offering virtual backgrounds to secure background images and for a fun change of scenery.  Various video conferencing platforms offer both, free and enterprise versions and choosing the best platform for your organization depends on the organization’s specific needs.

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.