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Stuck at Home Guide: Safe and Secure Video Chatting

Note: Senior Planet regularly offers virtual lessons on topics such as "All Things Zoom", "Hosting a Zoom Class"! You don't need a Zoom account to participate and many Senior Planet programs allow you to dial in by phone if you don't have a computer. You can also find simple zoom instructions in English, Spanish and Chinese here.

Have you held video conferences at this time of social distance? It's pretty cool to see multiple people on the screen at the same time and have a conversation as if everyone is in the same room. But we don't want strangers in our meetings – and we probably prefer to keep our information to ourselves. Here are some basic security tips:

Use passwords and / or unique ID numbers for each meeting. If the conference service offers you these features, enable them for each meeting you host. If you are not the host, ask who it is to do it. Other tools may be available to limit access to your video conference, such as the ability to approve each participant before participating. Consider enabling this too.

Keep the video conferencing software up to date. Many video conferencing companies update their software as they learn about vulnerabilities, so it's important to have those patches and fixes. But you should only accept updates directly from the service's website. This also applies if you need to download a video conferencing app. You should only download it directly from the service's website or a platform's app store.

Do not open unexpected video conference invitations. Hackers send emails that mimic video conference invitations. These emails may contain links that download malware to your computer or device. If you are not expecting a video conference invitation, please contact the host separately first. If you are the host, tell the participants in advance that you are going to send the link.

Protect your privacy. Your camera and microphone may be turned on by default when you join a video conference, so check the settings beforehand to learn how to mute yourself, or turn your camera off if necessary. Also, keep in mind that your video conference can be recorded, so it's best to avoid sharing private information via video conference. It's also a good idea to read the service's privacy policy to understand how your information will be treated.

A Note About Teleconferences: If you are meeting remotely with a healthcare provider, ask for special teleconference services. that may include more safeguards to keep information private.

(Do you use video conferencing services as part of your business activities? Read the business blog Video Conferencing: 1

0 Privacy Tips for Your Business .)

As Senior Planet Offers Daily Classes and Meetings through the Video Conference Platform Zoom (more than 50 a week!), We follow our own advice. Zoom is considered safe for most users, but this is what we do to ensure the added safety of Senior Planet class participants.

  1. We host our classes on secure, password-protected and fully updated accounts.
  2. "Waiting Rooms" are enabled, so hosts and co-hosts must manually approve each participant to take them to the meeting room where the class will be held.
  3. Participants cannot access meeting rooms without a host having the meeting
  4. Only the Zoom meeting hosts can share their screen during conversations

If you have any questions or concerns about participating in our virtual events, please call us on our national hotline: 920 -666-1959.

Note: These tips are from the FTC's Consumer and Business Education Department.

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