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Tips for staying safe while connecting digitally this holiday

If the COVID-19 pandemic has been good for anything, it’s making this holiday season one to remember. We’re finding digital counterparts to many of our holiday traditions — from streaming our favourite Christmas movies in sync with our family to holiday dinners over video chat. It might be a bit annoying, but look on the bright side: it’ll definitely be a holiday you don’t forget soon.

dialogue loading window surrounded by update circles and padlocks; text: Update

Use the following tips to ensure you’re making good memories by video chatting securely with your family and friends.

Update your software

Before starting your call, make sure that the software you’re using to chat with has been updated, as well as the device you’re chatting on. This not only makes sure you’re running with the latest security features and patches but might even add cool features to make your call even more fun.

Protect your privacy

Video calling apps aren’t known for being the most secure software out there. It’s worth taking a few extra precautions to protect your privacy. Check the privacy settings on the app you’re using and disable any that use too many permissions or share your information with a third party.

As with any online activity, you should be careful what you share when you’re connected. If there are any personal items in the background you wouldn’t want strangers to see, you should also put those away, or use a virtual background instead.

When you’re done chatting, make sure to disconnect from the call and disable your webcam and microphone.

Make passwords a priority

Having a strong and secure password is good advice for any account — and that includes whichever one you’ll be using to video call with. Make sure your account (and every other account you have!) uses a secure password at least 12 characters long, including upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters. Or better yet, use a passphrase, a combination of four or more random words that’s over 15 characters long. This password or passphrase should be unique to every other password you have.
In addition to an account password, some video call apps let you set a password when you set up your call. This prevents random people from joining your call, even if they somehow find the link. We recommend setting a meeting password when the option is available.

Chat in a secure location

What do online shopping, your taxes and video calling have in common? They’re all things you shouldn’t do on public Wi-Fi. That’s because public Wi-Fi, as convenient as it may be, is not very secure — cyber criminals can use unsecured Wi-Fi networks to infiltrate your device or access your personal information.

Because video calling gives you a peek into others’ homes and lives, it’s important to try to do it as securely as possible. That means making the call from home, work, or somewhere else with a secure connection, or installing a virtual private network (VPN) if you need to use an unsecured Wi-Fi network for any reason.

Conclusion

This year’s holiday season may be a bit strange but staying connected to our friends and family can help it all feel a little more normal. Make sure you’re keeping your security and theirs in mind by following these simple tips when connecting over video call this holiday.

 

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