As we navigate new ways to deliver care and support through online services, it’s important to ensure the safety and security of people accessing these services, especially where their personal information is concerned.
The following information provides some guidance for people working in HIV and sexual health organisations who are currently delivering services through popular webinar, virtual meeting and video conferencing platforms.
Platforms and applications
Zoom has become the video conferencing platform of choice for most organisations and the majority of information herein will refer to this application. However, there are alternatives available:
Suitable for work with service users
- Google Duo provides video conferencing for up to 12 people and is available via web and mobile devices. Video and audio calls are end-to-end encrypted.
- Webex is a popular video conferencing and webinar platform already used by many businesses. Video calling supports end-to-end encryption.
- GoToMeeting provides a similar service and includes end-to-end encryption as standard. There are no free plans.
Suitable for work with teams and colleagues
- Microsoft Teams is a ‘full-package’ collaborating tool which is one of the most comprehensive options available; with good security features and streamlined synchronisation with other Microsoft Office applications. However, it can be complicated and clunky compared to Zoom, which is simple and straightforward to use, or other options.
- Skype, Slack (paid plan only) and Facebook Messenger provide means to communicate by video but without full end-to-end encryption.
Using Zoom safely and securely
There has been noticeable media attention relating to ‘zoombombs’ in which uninvited trolls enter meetings and disrupt them by talking over meeting hosts or sharing undesirable content via video or screen share options.
There are some simple steps to avoid this practice:
- Do not share Zoom meeting numbers publically, send the joining information in private emails to registered attendees.
- Create a new meeting ID for each event or meeting rather than using your own personal meeting ID.
- Create a password for your meeting, and never share this publicly.
- Enable a waiting room (see advanced options), this will allow you to block anyone from joining who you were not expecting.
- As a meeting host you can decide whether you want to give all meeting attendees the option of sharing their screens.
- Once all of your attendees have arrived you can lock meetings to prevent anyone else from joining.
Hosts can record audio and video from meetings and capture the chat function via meeting reports, including private 1-2-1 conversations between attendees.
- Hosts should advise people in advance if they intend to record and share webinars and other educational meetings.
- Avoid discussing confidential matters with other attendees if you do not want the information shared with the meeting organiser.
Zoom provides a comprehensive guide to security of their platform including information on:
- Protecting your meetings
- Protecting your data
- Protecting your privacy
If you are concerned about the security and privacy in relation to providing services where personal information may be shared (for example online counselling), read more about Zoom’s security features and specific information regarding encryption for meetings.