January 29, 2021 | All Technology Topics, Cybersecurity

Protecting Privacy on Virtual Meetings [Guest Post]

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We thank Michael J. Molenda, ME, JD., Member of The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Technology for this guest post.

Virtual meetings are now standard court and business venues. ZOOM and Microsoft virtual meetings are easy to set up, easy to use and allow over 100 simultaneous users. With this comes a higher risk of loss of privacy. Hackers constantly try to capitalize on coding errors to hijack software for nefarious purposes. Virtual meeting security is often neglected or assumed to be in force. Basic precautions will ensure meetings and court proceedings are fact finding and collaborative efforts.

For your own computer system or in preparation for virtual meetings, choose a passphrase instead of a password. “J@nuary 5th” is good but “Cold J@nuary fifth” is better. When creating answers to personal questions be creative – lie. Bad guys don’t need your password if they can utilize search engines to learn about you. If “Red” is your favorite color change it to “Blue Red”.

Virtual security recommendations include: If you are hosting a virtual meeting, ask meeting participants enter via a password or passphrase. Do not publish the password or passphrase more than 24 hours in advance of the meeting. The result will be less “virtual bombing” by malcontents. Join virtual meetings via your web browser not the meeting service. Web browsers have better security enhancements. Always use a “waiting room” for participants and start the meeting only when the host joins. Enable notification to host or designate by having a “chirp” or “hello” when someone enters the meeting after the start. Names of attendees should be listed at all times to host or designate of host. Change access codes frequently. If meeting is sensitive use one time PIN codes and multi factor authentication. If meeting is recorded make certain recording is properly logged and stored after meeting.

Video Web meetings should include disabling features you don’t need during meeting such as chat, screen sharing, email, and file sharing. Limit who can use screen sharing before the meeting begins. At a specific time like 40 minutes, check all participant’s IDs. Lock the meeting to new attendees at the 15 minute mark after start of meeting. Encrypting recordings is necessary and a passphrase should be used to decrypt them. Do not respond to phishing scams during or before meetings. Examples are “Your ZOOM account has been suspended, please log in again” or “suspicious activity has been observed on your account please log back in now”. These are traps to steal your meeting credentials.

Another virtual meeting alert is keystroke snooping. Hacker teams can obtain your virtual meeting information by observing your shoulder and arm movements as to which keys you are using. Move your camera angle several times during a virtual meeting, left to right, up and down once or twice.

An excellent article on ZOOM enhanced court trials and discussions of new issues in courtroom technology use and perplexities is authored by Rachel A. Canfield in
The Florida Bar Journal, Volume 85, No.1, page 30, JAN/Feb 2021. Cyber security issues are now paramount in all video judicial proceedings. Storage of video, transcription of video, court cameras, virtual hearings and depositions, privacy guarantees, and ethical consideration are following behind technological advancements.

Virtual meetings are now a constant method of communication in business and law. Advancements in technology and the slow pace of adoption of security measures remains troublesome. Cybersecurity vigilance of your own computer, phone, printer, and tablet is an important REQUIREMENT for utilizing virtual meetings in your practice.

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