Safety tips for this socially distant but virtually connected world

6 MinsApril 23, 2020

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic has put most of us into precautionary lockdown, video conferencing apps have become an essential tool for work. Such technology has allowed workplaces to operate during the ongoing crisis, and also opened up possibilities of greater coordination and collaboration among people working remotely. However, there are certain risks in video calling apps, such as breaches and intrusions. This has made it all the more essential to implement best practices for video conferencing. We’ve listed out some important precautions for your video conferencing experience.

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Use reputed video apps

Ensure that the app you’re downloading has a good track record and comes from developers with a good reputation. Check for any news about previous hacks and breaches on the particular app, and any other app from the same developer. Check for the rating of the app on the app store you’re downloading from. The overall ratings should be high, and there should be as few negative reviews as possible. In addition to that, a reputed developer should have a website and a good social media presence, which you should go through at least once.

Keep your apps updated

Despite your checks, your app might have an undiscovered breach that puts your information at risk. More often than not, reputed developers are quick to act on any information of such breaches and release a fix as soon as they can. This is why it is important to install any update that the developer has put out. Most of these updates contain essential bug fixes and patches that can even prevent a potential breach. Just ensure that the update itself doesn’t break anything - to check that, keep a watch on online forums and social media conversations around the particular app.

Secure your meetings

Most leading video conferencing apps allow meeting participants to join by clicking a link. Recently, many such links have landed on to public domain message boards, allowing any person to join critical workplace meetings, with the motive of trolling. These trolls even take over the screen during meetings and webinars to display objectionable content. To avoid something like this from happening, there are few measures that you should take. For starters, don’t share the meeting links via social media posts. Also, password-protect your meetings and only share the password in closed groups not too long before the meeting starts. Some apps also provide 2-factor authentication, which forces users to authenticate themselves via either a unique-code or a device.

Make the most of the features available

To avoid an undesirable situation, such as a breach, you (or the host) can use additional features available to exert greater control over the video conference. For instance, certain apps allow you to keep a waiting room, from where you can manually allow members to join the meeting. Some can even restrict screen sharing capabilities to the host. Further features can go on to restrict people removed once from a meeting, from joining again.

[Also Read: Tips for Safe Banking Practices]

Double-check meeting links

Some recent cases have shown that people have been made to download malware unknowingly via meeting invites posing to be genuine. Don’t click on a meeting invite without checking its authenticity. A quick way to do that is to generate one on your own and keep a note of the format and structure to compare it against.

Check screens before screen-sharing

Similar to joining meetings, screen sharing is a common feature of video conference calls. However, while doing so, you might accidentally end up sharing something you didn’t intend to. It could range from your personal documents to classified work information. To avoid this, check all the tabs you’ve opened on your browser, and other application windows, before initiating screen share. If you think there’s a risk of exposing any unintended information over screen-share, close the window for the duration of the meeting.

Maintain data security

Even though most of our work is being done on video-call and conferencing apps today, think twice before sharing information over them. For personal and sensitive information, opt for secure email or encrypted cloud storage. It might ensure that your services do not fail, at the cost of just a few additional steps.

In the current situation, the financial sector has been a leading example of staying operational without compromising on data security. For instance, Axis Bank has stayed true to its ‘Open Dil Se’ philosophy by encouraging customers to address their banking needs on their secure mobile banking apps, internet banking, highly-capable ATMs and more. This has ensured that the essential banking services provided, stay open and accessible to all, even in these trying times.

Trust your intuition

In many cases, it turns out that if something feels risky or potentially dangerous, it is best to trust your gut and avoid it entirely. The same is applicable for video conferencing applications and the actions you can take on them. In these trying times, you won’t have access to prompt first hand IT support if something goes wrong. At the end of the day, it is always better to be safe than to be sorry.

Disclaimer: This article has been authored by Siddharth Parwatay, a Mumbai based independent tech-journalist, editor, and content-creator. Axis Bank doesn't influence the views of the author in any way. Axis Bank and/or the author shall not be responsible for any direct / indirect loss or liability incurred by the reader for taking any financial decisions based on the contents and information. Please consult your financial advisor before making any financial decision.