How will you stay connected to your family over the holiday season? Since the start of the pandemic, it has become the new “normal” to travel less and avoid large groups of people. In parallel to our reduced social interactions and outings is the rise of cyber threats and crime. Hackers do not just target companies anymore; they target regular everyday people in their personal lives. That’s why it’s crucial to learn how to protect your personal data whether you’re at home or in the office.
Unfortunately, this altered reality hits the hardest during the holiday season. However, you do not have to be alone. There are numerous resources to connect virtually at your disposal. With the click of a mouse, you can spend time in your favorite Aunt’s kitchen, even if she lives over 2,000 miles away.
Having all of these options is a gift but with so many to choose from, it can be difficult to decipher which virtual platform is the safest and easiest for you and your loved ones. Here is a list of the 3 most user-friendly and secure ways to connect remotely over the holidays.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular, global video conferencing applications. It is convenient worldwide calling and video chat features are hard to beat. The app’s “sync option,” swiftly moves your data from your mobile device to your computer. Its user-friendly interface and helpful features have earned it high praise from its loyal user base that spans 180 countries.
WhatsApp’s engineers have worked hard to ensure the privacy and security of its end users.
Here is what you need to know about WhatsApp and data security:
- WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption across its entire platform.
- The encryption keys make it impossible to decrypt messages.
- It also prevents third parties and even WhatsApp from accessing messages or calls.
This means that only the users having a conversation can read, see, or listen to chat messages and phone or video calls.
- WhatsApp allows you to customize your privacy settings.
You can change the visibility of your status and profile to others. This allows you to maintain your privacy if you do not want specific people to have access to you.
What else can you do to keep your data safe when using WhatsApp?
- Turn off your chat backup
Chat backups can easily lead to data leaks. WhatsApp backs up its chat to the WhatsApp cloud. However, WhatsApp does not have a cloud facility, so it uses a third-party cloud like Google Drive and iCloud to back it up. These clouds are not encrypted, and if hacked, your chat is vulnerable.
- Do not share screenshots with chats
According to experts, screenshots are one of the biggest reasons for leaked chats. A colleague can take a screenshot of a chat and share it with someone else. Once you share a screenshot with someone, that information Is no longer private.
Google Meet has steadily grown to two million daily users. Its video conferencing feature is an increasingly popular way to connect with friends and family virtually.
Google is world-renowned for its robust Google Suite security features and Google Meet spares no additional expense.
Here are a few of the security precautions Google implements to ensure your data is secure:
- Google Meet uses the same multi-layered security as Google Cloud’s Enterprise Services.
Google Meet relies on the same secure infrastructure, built-in protection, and global network to secure information and privacy as the rest of Google’s enterprise solutions and products.
- No software, extension, or plug-in installation is required.
You are only required to have an updated version of Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Safari browser, or the latest version of the Google Meet mobile app, to use this program.
- Your data is protected from Google and all third-party vendors.
Google ensures your data will not be sold to third-party vendors, used for advertising, or for their own company’s benefit.
- All data is encrypted by default.
All of Google Meet’s data is encrypted on a web browser, Android, and iOS apps, and in meeting rooms, which use Google’s meeting room hardware.
There is a unique encryption key for every video meeting, and for every person in the meeting.
Here are additional best practices to keep your data safe while using Google Meet: to keep your data safe while using Google Meet:
- Turn on 2-step verification to help prevent account takeovers, even if someone has your password.
- Use your Google Calendar to send your private meeting invitations.
- Consider enrolling in the Advanced Protection Program, which is the strongest set of protections that Google offers against phishing and account hijacking.
- Take this Security Check-Up. Google built this step-by-step tool guide to give you personalized and actionable security recommendations, to help you strengthen the security of your Google Account.
Over the past two years, Zoom has grown into the most popular online video conferencing service. Customers connect seamlessly with the hit of a button. Remember that no digital platform is 100% safe. However, Zoom has consistently listened to customer feedback and solved problems.
Here are a few of the updates Zoom has made to keep your data secure:
- Zoom added end-to-end encryption to secure your data. This means that any data transferred between two Zoom clients will not be intercepted by a Zoom server.
(It is important to know that this is not part of the default settings. For you to enable this new function, follow these instructions from Zoom.)
- Zoom disabled the GIPHY integration. This integration gave Zoom users the ability to send GIFs through the chat window. Zoom learned that malicious actors could send malware by creating GIF files and code snippets, so they disabled this function.
- Zoom addressed the “Zoom bombing” issues that were consistently taking place in 2020.
(“Zoom bombing” occurred when uninvited guests crashed virtual meetings, and displayed inappropriate content, or made offensive gestures.)
Zoom addressed this by adding several new features, which included:
- Creating a waiting room
- Adding two-factor authentication
- Making passwords mandatory when joining a personal meeting ID
While these changes provided a safer and more secure environment, you will still need to take further actions to protect your data.
Here are a few additional steps to ensure your data is protected at your next Zoom meeting:
- Use the Waiting Room feature to ensure only approved users are allowed access.
- Keep your Zoom software up to date. Zoom makes regular patch updates to fix critical issues.
- Password-protect your meetings and do not share your meeting ID with everyone.