Parents should take time to learn about safety controls with Zoom, Skype, Google Classroom, Google Hangouts, Webex, More…
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — To be clear: we are not alarmist conspiracy theorists at BocaNewsNow.com, but for grown-ups using Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype and other services to conduct business, and for parents who are overseeing their kids’ online learning, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Cameras and microphones
First, the obvious. When your computer camera is turned on, whoever is on the other end can see what your camera can see and they can hear what your microphone can hear. We’re not saying this to be ridiculous, but the internet is alive and well with stories of people who forgot they were “broadcasting.” Only turn it on when you need it…make sure it’s off when you don’t. We’re big fans of little sliding camera covers that you can buy from Amazon for next to nothing, but a piece of tape works as well. Again, we don’t think Russia is watching you, but the best way to make sure you’re not being watched is to block anything that could be used to watch you.
Know what you’re sharing
Next: Tech experts are not in agreement when they discuss potential security risks of services like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Webex, Skype and others. Some say they’re dangerous. Others take a more rational position which is where we fall as well: it’s important to familiarize yourself with settings and options. Most of these programs/app are exceptionally highly functional and let you send not just video and audio, but files from your hard drive, from your cloud services (dropbox/Google drive), even share a whiteboard with anyone and everyone. YOU control this. It is important to make sure that your settings are the way you want them to be. We strongly encourage you to take ten minutes and go through every option in the program of your choice. In Zoom alone, look at all of these (we have a paid account for “real” — not BocaNewsNow.com work — but even free accounts have a ton of security options).
Look At Some Of The Zoom Options You Control
Shut It Down When You’re Not Using It
Like any other app on your iPad, phone, Chromebook or Computer, the best practice is to close what you’re not using. If you’re done with a video chat, close the app. The risk of anyone doing something they shouldn’t do drops when the app is closed. Sure, there are stories of apps that continue to send data in the background, but it seems unlikely that any legitimate company would take part in that practice right now. It would be a PR nightmare.
As Google Classroom learning sweeps through Palm Beach County, parents should take some time to determine what parental controls are on the machines being used by their kids. Google Chrome itself has parental controls built-in. Most major operating systems do as well. Before your kids engage in video chats with teachers and other classmates, know that you’re no less vulnerable to data issues when kids use these services for learning than when grown-ups are using the apps for professional work.
Nothing is perfectly secure, but taking some time now to learn about what you’re using may save you from major headaches as our virtual society continues.
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