On April 19th during “Ask A Boss”, a digital live interview hosted by Walker’s Legacy, the host Natalie Madeira Cofield, Walker’s Legacy Founder & CEO, and I were interrupted by a voice taunting us with racial slurs, ape sounds, and a chant loaded with hate speech. The hacker (s) eventually muted the host’s sound and took control of the viewing screen, displaying disturbing videos that appeared to be child pornography.
Now more than ever with digital applications in high demand for virtual communication, we must be aggressive about the protection of user privacy and collaboration to stop cybercriminals in their tracks. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and mandatory social distancing virtual forms of communication have been heavily utilized by businesses, educational institutions, the government, families, and friends.
With video conferencing usage skyrocketing over 3000% in the last month, risks of cyber-attacks have also increased exponentially. While nearly all digital platforms face security vulnerabilities and chances of being hacked, there are precautions each of us may follow to reduce our risks.
As security and risk management professional, below are my 5 tips for worry-free videoconferencing:
#1 Be Proactive. The number 1 way to prevent a cyber intrusion is to harden your vulnerability. Authentication features, such as vetting forms (to determine a name, email address, social media handles, etc., of your attendees) are in place for your protection. Use them in advance to pre-screen your audience. Do not leave your conference open to the general public. Establish a conference identification and password. Do not publish the authentication features on social media or mass distribution lists. Send the information only to those intended to participate in the conference.
#2 Generic Naming. It is best to give your actual conference a generic name that does not bait hackers. Hackers are known to target groups to which they hold bias. It is acceptable to promote or reference your event by your chosen title, such as “Women of Color in Cybersecurity,” but name the actual meeting something less descriptive of the anticipated demographic of your participants.
#3 Verify Attendees. Before granting access to your conference, in addition to pre-screening attendees, utilize features such as a “waiting room” to verify attendees according to the information they provided in advance.
#4 Shut it Down. As soon as you realize your conference has gained an intruder, it is best to immediately end your conference. This will protect your data and your viewers from inappropriate and/or offensive content. Do not engage with the hacker (s). Wipe and/or reimage your device. If you receive emails or extortion instructions… Do not respond.
#5 Report It. It is critical to report any cyber intrusion to your internet or cellular provider. Remember to document the date and platform used, as well as any other details about the intrusion.
Article written by Holli Draines, CEO of Elite Strategy Global, a top tier security and risk management firm.