Staying Connected When We Have to Be Apart: ESET’s Video Calling Guide

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While stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has been harder than usual to keep up with friends and family. Coffee dates, lunches, movie nights, and pub quizzes have all had to be cancelled … at least in their physical form. Instead, video calling platforms – such as Zoom and Houseparty – have stepped in to substitute our physical interactions with virtual ones, keeping us connected with our loved ones, no matter how near or far they may be.

However, it’s not all fun and games. Video calling has also become essential for work and education, and as such has become a growing target for cyber threats. Whether we’re using Zoom for a pub quiz or Microsoft Teams to meet with a client, it can be easy to forget the cybersecurity threats to these virtual conversations. Taking a look at the trials and tribulations of communicating via video, ESET has put together a video calling guide, with five key steps to follow:

 1.     Check your background
One of the great benefits of video calling is that you can stay in touch wherever you are – all you need is an internet connection. However, this means that it is important to pay attention to your surroundings. If you have a whiteboard or corkboard behind you as you’re calling, you may inadvertently reveal sensitive information. To combat this, many platforms now offer the option to blur your background, which can be a useful tool to help keep your information private.

 2.     Don’t overshare
While this is good advice for conversations in general, it is also important when it comes to keeping video calls safe. Most secure platforms require unique details or logins to gain access to the meeting, which helps to make sure that strangers can’t just drop in. These details need to be shared with all the participants of a call, but make sure you do so with a secure, private message. When these details are made public, you face an increased chance of ‘zoombombing’ and other unwelcome interruptions.

3.     Remember where the mute button is
By now, most of us will have watched as a friend, colleague, or family member has mouthed away silently, unaware that they have accidentally left themselves on mute. This can be a source of great hilarity, but the mute function is also great for ensuring privacy. Keep an eye on your mute button – make sure private conversations stay private – but remember to unmute yourself when you’re ready to get back to the call!

 4.     Be aware when your camera is active
Knowing when your camera is on or off may sound basic, but it’s essential – not least for avoiding embarrassment! Being caught unawares is easier than it may sound, especially on platforms that offer both video and voice calling. Find out what symbols your device may have to tell you your camera is active – it may be that a light turns on or an icon appears on your dashboard. Pay attention and remember: a webcam cover is always a good idea.

 5.     Know who’s in control
Depending on which platform you use, participants may be able to take control of the video to share their screen. This can be useful for lots of different reasons, both work-related and social. However, for larger calls or calls where you don’t know everyone, make sure you can keep control of the meeting. Otherwise, you risk unauthorised takeovers, which could hijack your call and lead to all manner of things being displayed. Stay in the driver’s seat and use call controls to limit what other participants can do.