COVID 19: Best Practices for Videoconferences – Protecting the Privacy of Confidential Conversations

Recent news reports have emphasized that our private business and personal videoconference chats might not be as private and secure as we might think! The current surge in the use of videoconferencing services to connect with others for both business and personal matters has highlighted the inherent privacy and cybersecurity risks associated with their use. Videoconferencing “crashers” and public uploads of private conversations have surged as a result of inattention to these inherent risks. The good news is that there are ways to reduce this “new” risk to your, your employees’ and your families’ privacy.

As you and your business begin or expand the use of videoconferencing, we recommend taking the following precautions to help ensure that your private conversations remain private.

  1. Before using any videoconferencing service, ensure that you are properly versed in the privacy policies of that service. A privacy policy can generally be found on the service’s homepage of their website.If you are using an application downloaded to your computer or mobile device, a pop-up screen may be used to outline the privacy practices of the service provider or provide details on where to find additional information.
  2. Ensure that the privacy settings within the application or service are set appropriately and confirm that your employees and friends who may be joining you on the videoconference are aware of their ability to change and reset their settings.Where appropriate, employers may choose to set their employees’ privacy settings for the enterprise via the administrator’s account.
    • If you plan to record the videoconference, notify all attendees accordingly. Depending on your jurisdiction, certain data protection laws may also require you to obtain and document consent to the recording.
  3. Do not publicly share meeting access details or utilize the public room functions of the videoconference service. When possible, change the meeting access codes routinely and always use and require a host code.If appropriate, utilize an admittance function that will require the host to grant access to each individual. For meetings that will include discussion of sensitive matters, consider locking the videoconference once all expected attendees have joined so no others can join unexpectedly.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings. When confidential or sensitive business or personal matters may be discussed via the videoconference, ensure that proper auditory and visual controls are in place.Consider others who may be within earshot and move to another location when appropriate. You may also want to consider what can be seen in the background of your videoconference by testing the video software and visual field provided by your computer or mobile device.
  5. When the videoconference has ended, ensure that you logoff or sign out before moving on to your next task.Depending on the videoconference service, the meeting host may also be able to help ensure the privacy of attendees by ending the meeting and starting a new videoconference when necessary.
  6. If you have recorded the videoconference, make sure that it is stored in a secure location and is made only available to those who have a need to see the videoconference.
  7. Delete any videoconference recordings that you no longer need.This will both save storage space and protect the privacy of the videoconference.

Using videoconferences to connect with others can be a critical means of continuing business and staying in touch. By considering the privacy and cybersecurity implications associated with their use, you can go a long way toward mitigating the risks associated with these essential tools. For more information or assistance in understanding what precautions may make sense for your remote environment, please contact our Paul Hastings Privacy and Cybersecurity Solutions Group for assistance.