Privacy and Security: Online Meetings and Classes

As the University's administration and academics is now being conducted online due to COVID-19, staying cyber secure while working, teaching or learning from home is all the more crucial. Cybersecurity exposures and risks exist when conducting online meetings and classes. We’ve assembled some topics, tips and related articles to advise you of these vulnerabilities, as well as provide insight and guidance to mitigate such instances. For guidance on when — and if — you should record virtual meetings and discussions, click here.

Getting Started

Online Meetings

Both the organizer and participants should be aware of the risks and exposures that exist when facilitating and participating in online meetings using web conferencing platforms.  Keep the following in mind when hosting an online meeting:

  • Be familiar with configurations and settings that minimize risks such as moderating who has control of, and can share their screen/present.
  • Know how to prevent participants from muting others.
  • Carefully control and monitor who has the ability to invite/share the meeting invite. For example: avoid making the meeting available to anyone with the link.  
  • If the invite is shared through a link, ensure participants do not forward the link to those not intended for the meeting, by mistake or otherwise.

Lastly, whether you’re a meeting organizer or participant, ensure you’re aware of whether the platform you use has the ability to record, and if so, whether consent is required by participants, where the recording is stored, who has access to it, and how long it is retained for.

Here are some helpful guidelines and best practices when using web conferencing platforms:

Online Classes

Instructors should be aware of the risks and exposures that exist when hosting online classes and lectures, and keep the following in mind:

  • Be familiar with configurations and settings that minimize risks such as moderating who has control of, and can share their screen/present.
  • Know how to remove unwanted, or disruptive participants. 
  • Carefully control and monitor who has the ability to invite/share the meeting invite. For example: avoid making the meeting available to anyone with the link.  
  • If shared through a link, ensure students do not forward the link onto others not in the class section, whether by mistake or otherwise.

Lastly, be aware of whether the platform you use has the ability to record, and if so, whether consent is required by participants, where the recording is stored, who has access to it, and how long it is retained for.

Here are some helpful guidelines and best practices when using web conferencing platforms:

For more information on delivering online lectures, be sure to follow these guidelines and overviews:

UAlberta Telehealth

At this time, the University is supporting the use of video conferencing platforms for work-related meetings, providing health services, etc. The preferred platform is Google Hangouts Meet, however we understand that other tools, such as Zoom, are being used on an interim basis in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For more information on using video conferencing platforms to provide health services, please be sure to review the following best practices:

Information Management, Privacy, and Records Management

As we transition into working from home and alternative work environments to allow for flexibility and safety, it’s important to understand our responsibilities when it comes to records management. Take extra care to protect confidentiality and personal information. As an employee, faculty member, or student, follow these considerations to ensure you are maintaining records properly, and appropriately safeguarding information. 

Increase in Online Scams

With the potential for cybersecurity risks being elevated, scammers are exploiting the COVID-19 situation through urgent appeals for monetary donations, and unsolicited/irregular emails or text messages that are supposedly from University senior leaders, management/supervisors, or coworkers. Be very cautious and vigilant. For tips and telltale signs on how to spot such phishing scams, guidance on how to protect yourself, as well as tips on how to work securely from home, review our recommendations: