We’ve entered a new normal of working from home and remote meetings using apps such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and even gaming tools like Twitch, Mixer and Discord. The convenience is amazing. We can attend meetings, conferences and community events all from the safety of our homes. Virtual meetings save time and travel costs while increasing efficiency.

With convenience also comes some danger. Who may be lurking in our online meetings? Are they trying to steal our most sensitive information? Is an Internet Troll causing havoc just because they can? Can our system(s) get malware through these meeting apps?

As I write this in April 2020, Zoom teleconferencing is under attack. (See the FBI warning.) What’s happening there can happen with many other virtual meeting applications. There are simple steps all of us should take to protect our online, virtual meetings and lives. Below are steps for protecting online meetings:

  • Lock your doors.
    Use a unique room number or password on all meeting rooms.
    Use the “waiting room” feature to require attendees to request admission upon entry.
    Lock the room when everyone’s there.
  • Know who’s invited.
    Keep meetings and classes private. Be very cautious when making meetings, teleconferences or classrooms public.
    Invite only the people you want in your room. (See above.)
    If you have an open meeting or webinar, make attendees register and provide each with the room number and password.
  • Share with care.
    Don’t share a link to a virtual meeting room on unrestricted social media sites.
    Avoid linking your meeting apps with social media accounts.
    Only the host and their designees should be allowed to share screens or content.
    Be aware of what you have open when sharing your screen during the meeting. Be sure it’s okay for anyone to see.
  • Don’t accept candy from strangers.
    Know where you’re going on the Internet and what meetings/conferences/meet-ups you’re attending. Just because a friend shares a link doesn’t mean it’s safe.
    Be cautious with files shared over virtual meetings. Scan everything for malware.
  • Trust your gut. Whenever there is any doubt, ask.
    Investigate any time something doesn’t seem right.
    Directly contact the meeting organizers through another channel, not the meeting application.
    Be open when someone asks you to verify.  

Think of your online room like you would your home office. All of the above ideas work, right? The Internet is a dual-edged sword. Handle it with care and it’s a great weapon. Teach others safe handling techniques. Click here to learn more tips, tools and techniques for cybersafety.
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