12 Ways to Protect Your Privacy on Zoom and Other Video Conferencing Platforms

Video conferencing has never been more popular and is now used in almost every industry. While the convenience of this technology is obvious, it also poses a privacy risk. People often join meetings they are not supposed to attend and confidential information is often shared unnecessarily. Video conferencing platforms have features that prevent both of these issues from occurring. But such a feature is not always used.

So how do you use video conferencing without sharing the wrong information? Here are 12 ways to make video conferences private.

1. Use a waiting room

Zooming in on a computer monitor vector

If you are hosting a meeting, you should always use a waiting room. Most video conferencing tools have this feature. Once activated, anyone wishing to attend a meeting is first asked to wait. This allows the meeting organizer to personally verify all participants. Provided the organizer pays attention, it is impossible for anyone to attend without permission.

2. Use Random Meeting IDs

Meeting IDs are often reused. This is obviously convenient, but it also means that anyone who knows the previous meeting ID can show up uninvited. Most video conferencing platforms allow you to generate random IDs. They also allow you to set up password protection. Once set up, each participant will need both the meeting ID and password in order to attend.


3. Use virtual backgrounds

Virtual backgrounds are great for hiding your location and preventing anything in the background from being seen. This is especially important in business environments where you may have confidential documents. But it’s also useful if you don’t want participants to know where you live. If you want to use a virtual background, you need to check your video conferencing app settings. You can also download additional applications specially designed for this purpose.

4. Turn off your camera or microphone

When you attend a meeting, most video conferencing platforms activate your camera and microphone by default. However, you can usually adjust the settings so that they remain off by default. It is also possible to disable them manually and stay in the meeting. This is useful if you don’t want people to be able to watch or listen to you while you’re not contributing.

Chat rooms are useful for certain types of communication, but they can be more harmful than video conferencing. A chat room allows you to share both links and files. Either of these options can be used to spread malware. Chat rooms are also ideal for launching phishing attacks. Before you click on anything in a chat room, you need to check who sent it.

If you are the meeting organizer, it is possible to completely disable this feature.

6. Understand Private Chats

Zoom on the chrome application

Private chats can also pose a privacy risk if you don’t understand how they work. Many video conferencing tools have transcription functionality. When enabled, it records all private messages that occur during a meeting and makes them available to the meeting host. This means that private chats are not really private. So you should avoid saying anything in a private chat that you wouldn’t say publicly.

Videoconferences should only be discussed using private communication. Unfortunately, they are often advertised on social networks. This is obviously faster than contacting attendees individually, but it also shows the meeting ID to strangers. If you attend a publicly advertised meeting, you should always be extra careful. This may indicate that other basic security practices are not being followed.

8. Ask permission to save

Important videoconferences are often recorded. There are many valid reasons for doing this, but it is important that all participants are made aware that this is happening. Most video conferencing tools provide an icon that can be used to indicate the recording in progress. However, if you are attending a meeting, these icons are not always used.

9. Be careful with screen sharing

Screen sharing is an important productivity tool, but it also has obvious privacy drawbacks. Before activating screen sharing, check if your screen contains anything that could contain confidential information. Screen sharing can also be disabled by the meeting host, preventing uninvited guests from causing disruption.

10. Keep software up to date

Video conferencing platforms are growing in popularity, making them prime targets for hackers. All platforms are updated regularly, ensuring that if any security vulnerabilities are discovered, they are fixed immediately. You should install these updates as they are released.

Some hackers advertise fake versions of these apps, so you should only download video conferencing apps from the provider’s website, making sure they are verified as real.

11. Secure your computer and Wi-Fi

Using a VPN is a way to prevent ISP throttling

Your videoconferences are as secure as the computer and Internet connection you use. If you have malware on your computer or are connected to the Internet using an unencrypted Wi-Fi connection, it’s possible that a malicious actor is recording what you say. To avoid malware, you need to be careful what you download and use reputable anti-virus software. You should also avoid unencrypted Wi-Fi hotspots or install a VPN.

12. Report suspicious activity

If you see someone behaving suspiciously during a videoconference, always bring it to the attention of the meeting organizer. Uninvited guests are common in video conferences and they rely on other participants not paying attention. Many people assume that the host will keep uninvited guests away, but they are often busy with other duties. It is therefore the responsibility of all participants to be vigilant.

Video conferencing is not always private

Video conferencing is becoming a requirement for many jobs. When used incorrectly, it is easy to reveal more information about yourself than you would like. But there are many ways to prevent this from happening.

It is important to understand that when attending a virtual meeting, it is not always possible to tell who is watching. Your video stream and behavior should therefore be optimized to reveal as little as possible about yourself.

a zoom meeting in progress

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