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DICT warns on use of video, teleconferencing apps citing security issues

By: Catherine Gonzales - Inquirer.net April 07,2020 - 12:59 PM

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Tuesday advised the public to be more cautious in using video and teleconferencing software, which are now being used by some companies amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon.

In an advisory, the DICT said a number of security issues have recently surfaced for certain video and teleconferencing applications, including allegations on activation of the device’s camera without the user knowing about it.

With Luzon now under the ECQ, some companies have resorted to holding meetings through teleconferencing.

Some parts of Visayas and Mindanao have also been placed either a general or enhanced community quarantine as a measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

To prevent security concerns, the Cybersecurity Bureau of the DICT has advised the public to set up meetings in these platforms as private and to not share or announce the meeting ID number on social media or other messaging sites.

DICT advised that meetings should be secured with passwords or codes. The host of the online meeting should be notified when people join in the teleconference and inspect the list of participants periodically.

Users are also urged to carefully control screen sharing and recording, keep their camera and mic turned off unless they’re speaking, be aware of everything within the view of their camera, and to cover their webcam when not in use as some hackers have the ability to turn it on without the owner knowing of it.

The DICT likewise encouraged users of such applications to install free browser extensions that block tracking activities of applications, such as Chrome’s AdBlock Plus or Firefox Ad Hacker. Installment of firewall software from trusted firewall security companies is also advised.

“The foregoing steps are meant to educate and empower users in proactively taking measures to ensure their cybersecurity, bearing in mind that video and teleconferencing and other related apps may have different default settings that may or may not correspond to the degree of privacy and cybersecurity that the user desires,” the DICT said.

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