After 9/11, many companies restricted corporate travel and began embracing online conferencing resources – whether by telephone, video or otherwise.

Now, Webex, Zoom and other similar services are bringing people into the same (virtual) room to facilitate collaboration and negotiation without leaving the comfort of their office or home.

These tools are time saving and effective – but they must be used with privacy and security in mind.

A few thoughts worth considering:

  • When selecting a provider, make sure that the provider offers security controls and password protection – and then use those protections before launching the application
  • When sending a calendar invite to attendees, do NOT include the leader pin!  Doing so would allow others to use your service
  • If you are recording your session, consider whether other attendees would be offended if they did not know they were being recorded
  • If you are sharing your screen, be VERY mindful of what else may “pop up” on that screen – outside attendees should not be able to view ANY other aspect of your activities
  • If you are using a video/webcam feature, consider what else may be viewed by other attendees
    • Is there a white board behind you that lists current projects?
    • Could someone walk behind you, not knowing you were on a video chat, and put you in an awkward situation – during one video conference I participated in, an attendee’s significant other walked by in underwear…
  • Be careful when you send the invitation that your email did not “autofill” the address of attendees such that someone joined your call who has nothing to do with the project at hand – and may not be part of your organization
  • Do not take unrelated calls while on a video chat – even if you are on mute others can see you are not paying attention and you never know who can read lips
  • Make sure the resource you are using – whether Webex, Zoom or otherwise – is secure.
  • If multiple parties are on a call, and then you wish to speak to “your side,” do not stay on the same bridge.  Circulate a new dial in just for your team to ensure no persons from the “other side” stayed on to hear the ensuing strategy or evaluation discussion.

Note that the NJCCIC (New Jersey’s Cyber Communication Resource) advised that earlier this year researchers discovered a vulnerability in WebEx, Zoom and other online conferencing products.  APIs (or Application Programming Interfaces) were used to capture meeting IDs to access meetings and possibly maintain access for an extended period of time.  Cisco and Zoom issued an alert to its users as to security measures that users can take to secure their conferences.

As with any technology, video conferencing is a wonderful tool, but should be used wisely to ensure that only those you intend are able to participate, and see and hear only relevant information.