If you are one of the millions of people that are left dependent on video conferencing apps amid coronavirus outbreak and self-isolation then we have some bad news for you. Many of the popular video conferencing applications used these days are compromising users’ privacy without them or users knowing it.
Amid coronavirus crisis, many countries in the world such as China, United States, Italy, Spain, and Australia have imposed countrywide lockdown to help curb the spread of the virus. While lockdown may be a big threat to countries’ economy but it is still a relevantly good option to help people practice social distancing and self-isolation.
Most of the countries that are badly hit with the coronavirus have shifted their working to an entirely new dimension. Organizations that were once reluctant to allow their staff to work from home now made these WFH (work from home) their priority. Many of the schools and colleges are teaching and learning online to encounter the loss in academics over the lockdown days.
This ability to continue the working progress from home might seem a good idea to overcome the loss in the company’s working or the harm in academics but it is also unintentionally causing a threat to people’s privacy.
How Functioning from Home is a Threat to Privacy?
As we said above that amid coronavirus crisis millions of people have started functioning from home i.e. they are now working online. Schools have found great apps that can support a teacher lecturing to a class of above 100 and 200 students. On the other hand, companies are trying modern applications to remain engaged with their team on projects and work schedules at the time of crisis. While these video conferencing applications are great for those who want to stay connected on a single platform, it is still a potential threat to user’s privacy.
One of the widely popular and exceedingly used business and academic video conferencing application is Zoom. If you were a student or an employee currently working from home then you would know how the application works. The application allows easy access to up to 500 participants in its expanded version to join a single video chat. While this may seem like a great way to bring a large number of people in one single platform, the application’s privacy policies have started debated online.
The Zoom’s privacy policies were never a matter of debate until it got popular in the quarantine days. The internet users found that the meetings held in the Zoom application are public and are carried out without passcodes. This means that almost anybody can “zoombomb” the meeting if the app’s privacy settings are on default.
In 2019, the privacy bug in the Zoom application was exposed when a company’s private meeting took a horrible turn. The app allowed hackers to hijacks employees’ webcams using the application.
This shows that no matter how convenient and easy-to-use it may seem, these video-conferencing applications are a constant threat to your privacy. Therefore, before you start using these applications for business, academic and private purposes make sure you have changed the setting from default.
Another most important thing to keep in mind before using online video conferencing applications is to have a reliable and secure internet connection at home. If you are living in the United States, the good news is that the Cox internet service is a high-speed internet service provider in the United States that ensures delivery of reliable and secure internet connection.
What about House Party?
Although the house party is not an application that can be used for business and academic purposes it’s still one of the popular applications used in self-isolation days.
Many of us are practicing social distancing and are not being able to meet our friends and relatives like we used to before the coronavirus outbreak. And in such times of vulnerabilities, social conferencing applications like House Party are regarded as saviors. However, this conference application designed to keep us connected with our friends and family virtually can pose a threat to our privacy.
The cybersecurity researchers have realized the popularity of the applications and suggested users to keenly understand the permission guidelines of the applications before using them. The application asks the users to give the app access to their camera their microphones and also their contact lists and Facebook friends list.
In its privacy policies outline, the app, House Party has clearly stated that the information you provide to the app upon downloading is collected. The App also states that it cans also de-identified demographic and the user’s location information.
Therefore it is important to read the privacy and permission guidelines of the app instead of blindly clicking on the “Accept and proceed” option.