Video chats are nothing new. However, with more and more people stuck at home these days and unable to meet with others in person, video chat’s popularity has shot through the roof. Over the course of March alone, new Zoom subscribers rose an incredible 728%!
Other major providers–Facebook, Apple, Google, Skype–have increased their existing video chat services to meet the skyrocketing demand. And new platforms, like Houseparty, have been able to share in the boom.
With the explosion of new users, unfortunately, certain security weaknesses in video chat platforms presented themselves. Zoom, in particular, received attention for “meeting bombers” and weaknesses in their encryption. (Zoom heeded the outcry for more and better privacy and security, and has since upgraded things accordingly.)
But as long as you do your research on the video chat service of your choice, you can feel better that your data is secure. And there are things that you can do personally to stay safer while enjoying the convenience of this technology:
Check Out Video Chat Services’ Security
Use Passwords and/or “Waiting Rooms”
To protect yourself further, take advantage of the optional security measures that some servers provide. Require passwords from chat attendees. Or institute a waiting room, or some other similar option, that requires you to approve anyone wanting to join.
Keep Video App Software Up-to-Date
If your video chat software suggests updating, always do it. Out-of-date software is much more vulnerable to security breaches. So, keeping up with recommended updates will work to keep your chats much more secure.
Make Sure You Know What You’re Showing
With the focus so much on what the video chat services are doing about privacy, you may not pay attention to things that you can do. When you’re sharing your screen, for example, make sure that you aren’t showing questionable tabs or files on your desktop.
Keep your background in mind; are there books or pictures you don’t want others to see? Some video chat apps offer animated backgrounds to hide your real one (so you’re sitting on a tropical beach, traveling through the stars, etc.). Or they may allow you to simply blur whatever’s behind you.
Keep Online Privacy Basics in Mind
Other things that you may do to keep yourself safe online should also be used to help with security during video chats. Keeping your software up-to-date is one. Also, be sure to use complex passwords, and change them regularly. Utilize two-factor authentication, if offered. And have your own virus protection software on your device to detect any intruders.
Depending on the nature of a video chat, you might not know everyone involved all that well. To counteract that, and make yourself feel better sharing info with relative strangers, you can perform a quick online people search on them and see if they have anything troublesome or criminal in their background that you should worry about.
Whether you’re already well on the video chat train, or you have yet to join in, the fact is that video chats are here to stay. Choosing an app with security features you need, and then doing your part to protect your privacy will help to make the experience fun and safe. Then, all you have to worry about is picking the background you like that day.
For more information on online security and other safety issues, be sure to read the PeopleFinders blog.
Image attribution: Photo by fizkes – www.shutterstock.com