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12th May 2020

Cyber Security Month – How to stay safe from hackers on a conference call?

This article is part of our cyber security month where we will provide you with the necessary tools to keep you and your colleagues safe online. Especially during the pandemic, we are relying heavily on technology to communicate with friends, family and colleagues. This article (pg 14) was first published in Caring UK on 6th May 2020

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The Coronavirus crisis has revealed few shafts of light, but one that has emerged is the pace of technological change. Suddenly, in the space of a few weeks, people have begun to embrace video conferencing technology. In the care sector such technology has been positively life changing. It's enabled GP appointments to continue, while residents have been able to keep in touch with family and voluntary organisations in the local community.

But while the Coronavirus has accelerated this technological culture shift, it has also presented seasoned cyber criminals with an unprecedented opportunity to target unsuspecting care staff, who have begun using these intuitive systems without first properly assessing the security risks. 

As someone who has worked in IT for some of the world’s largest companies for the last two decades, I can tell you that the cyber threat is very real and the consequences of an attack can be potentially devastating.  

So what could a cybercriminal do? Well, quite a lot actually. Once on the call, they could steal any sensitive information relating to the care home , the people working there or the residents, before selling it on the Dark Web. 

But equally, there are several best practice steps you can take, which will not only mitigate cyber risk, but will also enhance privacy and improve security. So what are they? 

Firstly, check that all staff desktops, laptops, tablets and phones are up-to-date. Also check that contractors have installed the latest updates on their deviceOn this note, it’s worth remembering the saying ‘The chain is only as strong as the weakest link, as if just one of the participants has a bug or flaw on their computer, it could allow a malicious hacker to infiltrate the meeting. 

When it comes to setting up a meeting, never post the meeting link on social media, as it could be intercepted by cyber criminals. Secondly, always use a platform which has a ‘virtual waiting area’. This will allow you to check who is attending the meeting. Thirdly, as an added security measure, ensure that everyone is muted before the meeting starts. Fourth, consider the content that is due to be discussed. If information is privileged, decide whether the meeting needs to be recorded. 

For attendees, there are a few best practice tips to observe. Firstly, the meeting may be a virtual one, but approach it in exactly the same way you would a face-to-face one. Secondly, check that the hardware you're using works before the meeting starts. Thirdly, check the backgroundwhich will appear in shot, is the backdrop you want everyone to see. This is particularly relevant in the care sector because not everyone in a care home, or domiciliary agency has a private office. Therefore, there’s a risk that residents might accidentally appear in the background. This could, however, breach privacy laws. The easiest way to nip this in the bud is to adjust the settings to create a virtual background. 

Fourth, when it's your turn to speak, ensure that you’re not on mute, and that you’ve switched back into mute when you’ve finished speaking. Finally, if there are lots of people on the call, it's often a good idea to raise your hand.



*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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