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Skype & Other Video Calls

Internet video or voice (VoIP) calls are very inexpensive and convenient, and especially useful for online meetings between two or more parties who cannot – or do not wish to – attend face-to-face meetings, seminars, training sessions and the like. They use your internet connect to make and receive calls.

There are three main types of service:

  • By far the most popular nowadays are video  meeting/webinar services such as Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex and Google Meet, which also enable users to invite and set up contacts, create profiles, make video calls and share screens and files. Other features, depending on the platform and level of subscription, may include comments, polls and breakout rooms.
  • Basic, where you simply plug a standard phone handset, headset or microphone and speakers into your VoIP-configured wireless hub to make low-cost internet calls.
  • Managed, where a company provides you with a local telephone number and you can receive as well as make calls.

As is the case with other internet-based services, you need to take care with how you use these.   

The Risks

  • There is a slight risk of eavesdropping because VoIP works over public internet connections. However, the risk is lower than that of using a conventional landline, which can be easily snooped on.
  • If you are using these services for making calls between three or more people where the dialup and access details are pre-arranged, anybody who can access these details (for example by seeing the invitation or email or notification on a website or social media) can also gain access to or eavesdrop on your call
  • If the above happens, these unauthorised people could also ‘bomb’ your call or meeting, even going so far as to share inappropriate content or abusive input.
  • Fraudsters can request that you be their contact in order to:
    • Call or instant message you to perpetrate a scam or fraud, normally by getting you to visit a fraudulent website or download a malicious file containing a virus or spyware.
    • Access personal details on your profile and use them dishonestly. 

Safe use of internet calls/meetings

  • If accessing your service requires you to use a password, ensure you use strong passwords, and do not disclose them to anyone else.
  • If your service includes a public profile, do not include any sensitive, private or confidential information in it.
  • Be wary about whom you accept contact requests from. Set up your service to allow connections only from people you know.
  • Quickly block nuisance and fraudulent users from further contact with you and also report them for abuse.
  • If you think that you have been persuaded by anyone to part with payment details, contact your bank or card issuer immediately. 
  • Check regularly with the platform for updates or patches. If notified that they are available, apply them immediately as they normally contain security fixes.
  • Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus/antispyware software and firewall running. 
  • Always log out of your video or audio calling service when you have finished your call. Simply closing your browser may not automatically finish your session.
  • Be aware that using these depends on your device having power. If there is a power cut, your device runs out of battery or you experience other problem with the equipment, you will not be able to make or receive calls, including emergency calls.

More information

See article How to safely use remote meeting tools 

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  • Be careful about requests for you to be a contact, and what other people invite you to do.
  • Don't publicise call/meeting IDs or passwords on websites or social media in case they are joined or 'bombed' by people you don't want to join.
 

See also...

 

Privacy
Maintain privacy and avoid identity theft or fraud.

Preventing Identity Theft
Your identity is precious. Keep it that way with a few simple precautions.

 

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