How confidential are virtual meetings?

Since March 2020 the likelihood of being invited to a virtual meeting has increased dramatically. The important question for businesses is how do we ensure that confidentiality is maintained?

I am not an IT security expert, but many of my meetings as an HR consultant and Confidence Coach contain personally sensitive information and I want to make sure I have done everything possible to maintain confidentiality. Four points you may want to consider to ensure your online meetings are as secure as possible are:

1. Make sure you carry out due diligence on the virtual platform you are using, and ensure all participants involved in the meeting are aware of any data that the virtual platform will gather. Video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft teams have recently implemented measures to give added protection and

assurance to users following their explosion in use since the beginning of the year, but it is still important that you understand the measures your chosen platform has put in place.  

2. Have you got a policy or statement in place either, as part of your IT Policy or separately, setting out the use and security considerations of virtual meetings for your business? The National Cyber Security Centre has some useful guidance for businesses about what to consider.

3. Do any of the participants joining from home have a smart speaker? According to initial findings in a study conducted by Imperial
College London, smart speakers are capable of accidental activation up to 19 times per day, and recording dialogue of up to 43 seconds. Therefore, it would be prudent to advise all participants to ensure all smart speakers in their homes are switched off.

4. Who else is around? Ask participants to ensure where at all possible they access the meeting from a private space in their house. If the meeting is of a sensitive nature such as an investigation meeting or hearing, you could also consider asking participants to make a declaration at the start of the meeting confirming who is present in the property, and that they are in a private space.

The Information Commission also have a very useful checklist and information about how to ensure data security during this time for employers. If you are planning to hold investigation meetings or hearings virtually, then click here to download my checklist of key considerations from last weeks blog.