There are quite a few things that have changed over the past few months as far as our lives, businesses, and other things. This is because of the pandemic. This has made thousands of people work from home. This is the norm as far as the big companies are concerned.
Even small companies and small entrepreneurs who are running their home-based businesses are also finding it necessary to opt for ways and means for working from their homes. This has given rise to the popularity and usage of web-based businesses, conferences, meetings, and other such things.
Webinars were there even before December 2019, but they have started becoming popular because there continues to be a big restriction in the movement of people. One-to-one meetings, conferences, and other such events are becoming a rarity and are almost totally absent. However, in spite of the changing realities and needs, not everyone is on the same page when it comes to understanding and using webinar-based meetings. They often ask the question, are webinars safe? I, therefore, found it fit to try and answer the question as best as we can.
It may not be possible to give a straight-jacketed answer to the above question. This is because of the fact that there are various aspects that have to be considered when we conduct a webinar, however, small or closed it might be. We need to take into account the data that is transferred across people and places during a webinar.
Further, contents also play a role in defining whether a webinar is safe or otherwise. Young children are also getting into the fascinating world of webinars. Therefore, we believe that it is important to ensure the safety of children when they take part in webinars. Many people also have some common doubts pertaining to webinars. They would like to know whether they would be seen or heard when they are a part of a webinar. Though these may look like very primary questions, they should be answered to the satisfaction of those who are seeking such information.
Webinars are generally considered as safe, but it does come down to if you trust the organizer and trust they have their security measures as presenter vetting, passwords, unique IDs and such in place. Choosing a reputable organizer is always preferable.
Are webinars safe data sharing-wise?
Since webinars have become the order of the day, it is quite natural for participants to ask questions as to whether webinars are safe when it comes to sharing data and information. We need to understand that webinars are held between closed groups, whether they are two persons or even dozens of people. Hence, sharing data and information within a closed group is not unsafe. But there are some laid down rules, protocols and practices and they should be followed.
If they are followed to the rule book, we believe that data sharing on webinars is as safe as it is done through other digital and electronic mediums. We are listing down some common things that you should do to protect the safety and integrity of data and information that is being shared across individuals and groups in a webinar
- All webinar meetings must be password-protected. We can vouch that this is a simple but effective method to prevent the hijacking of such webinars by unwanted persons. Password settings are quite flexible and they can be done for an individual meeting, group meetings, and passwords at various account levels can also be set. Every participant of such meetings must log-in with the passwords failing which he or she will not be allowed to be logged in to the webinars.
- Authentication of users is another way by which data and information can be secured. This will ensure that only signed-in participants are allowed to participate.
- Do not allow others to join before the host joins. This will ensure that only signed-users will take part in such meetings and webinars.
- I recommend locking down the meeting once the session has begun. Set a maximum number of members for the webinar. Once this has been reached, it would be advisable to lock down the meeting. This will prevent unwanted people from hijacking the meeting.
- Turn off-screen sharing options of participants. When you are conducting a meeting where sensitive data and information are being shared, we would always recommend turning off screen-sharing options. This is vital because we have seen some unscrupulous participants sharing unwanted material, videos, and images if the share-screening option is allowed to participants. Keep this option only with those who are organizing the meeting or those with admin rights.
- The importance of randomly generated IDs is another thing that we feel could increase the security of the webinar and avoid data pilferage and robbery.
- Many well-known and reliable webinar platforms use the waiting room feature quite effectively. This is an effective method of screening participants before they are allowed in a meeting.
- I advise the organizers to be tough with nuisance attendees. This will not only increase safety and security but also will ensure that trouble-mongers and uninterested attendees are kept at bay.
Are webinars safe content-wise?
There are not many reasons to believe that webinars are unsafe as far as content is concerned. At the end of the day, contents are decided, designed, shared, and propagated by the organizers of these webinars. Hence, they are the ones who should own up the responsibility when it comes to judging the safety or otherwise of contents.
Yes, there could be some outside agents that might try and hijack the content and it has happened quite a few times. However, this can be remedied to a large extent by ensuring that the above safety attributes are followed. These include password management, creation of randomized IDs, waiting room concept, locking out the webinar meeting, etc.
Are webinars safe for kids?
Schools are now shifting to online teaching and thousands of young students across all ages are now attending webinar classes conducted by their respective schools. While this indeed is bringing education to the living rooms and bedrooms of children in a pandemic situation, we are also aware that there could also be some risks.
Children are curious and inquisitive and therefore, when it comes to webinars, we have no doubt in suggesting that the children should be monitored and guided by parents at all points in time. However, at the same time, the children should not feel suffocated and should not be made to feel somebody is always breathing down their neck.
This certainly will make them withdrawn in their studies and such monitoring may become counterproductive. At the same time, we suggest the following few points that will go a long way in increasing the safety of webinars as far as children are concerned.
- Educate them about the need for being aware about the benefits or interest safety when taking part in webinars. Make them aware about the dangers of sharing screens, videos and images of webinars.
- Keep a tab on the digital footprint. This can be done easily and there are tools available that help you, as parents, to find out as to the various places the child goes when the webinar is on.
- Play the role of an admin judiciously while not seeming to be too obtrusive. Try to be as discreet as possible so that you know what is going on behind the screen.
- I also recommend that teachers and parents should teach the children about the various dangers associated with wrong etiquettes. This is all the more important to your girl child while young boys and lads should also be made aware of the possible and lurking dangers.
- We also emphasize the need to educate the children on a continuous basis about the kind of interactions that one should avoid when they are attending webinars.
- The points suggested above with regard to restricting participants, locking out participants and a few other things are time tested and proven and they could go a long way in making webinars and digital meetings safe for children.
At the end of the day, we should understand that as parents and teachers, digital learning through webinars and other such tools is becoming necessary. As the pandemic continues to play havoc around the world, and as children are vulnerable to infections, it may take a few years before normalcy actually returns. Under such situations, webinars may become indispensable and we should teach our children how to make use of them safely, efficiently, and judiciously.
Can they see you (as an attendee) during a webinar?
Yes, the other participants can see you as an attendee if the organizers of the webinar feel that participants should be able to see one another. In case they would like the webinar to be only an audio event, the organizers can disable the video of the participants. In the same way, individual participants are also given the liberty of either turning their videos off or on. When it is on other participants can see them. When the video is disabled, obviously the other participants will not be able to see them.
Can people hear me (as an attendee) during a webinar?
Yes, other participants can hear you as an attendee and the same options that are available for video will also be applicable as far as audio is concerned. The participants can turn on audio, provided the organizers have not locked out their audio.
The world has gone through many changes over the past few months and there is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has turned many things on its head. Webinars that were limited to a few big houses have now become commonplace. On the whole, there are not many reasons to believe that webinars are unsafe.
Hence, in most cases the answers to questions are webinars safe, we feel, should be always in the affirmative. Yes, they are safe.