Privacy ‘at risk through video conferencing’

Users of video conference platforms face security and privacy threats, according to researchers at Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

“Our results indicate that it is relatively easy to collect thousands of publicly available images of video conference meetings and extract personal information about the participants, including their face images, age, gender, usernames and sometimes even full names,” the co-authors wrote.

“This type of extracted data can vastly and easily jeopardise people’s security and privacy both in the online and real world.”

They added: “Cross-referencing facial image data with social network data may put participants at additional privacy risks they may not be aware of and that it is possible to identify users that appear in several video conference meetings.”

The researchers, Dima Kagan, Galit Fuhrmann Alperty and Michael Firez, from the university’s department of software and information systems engineering, entitled their paper Zooming Into Video Conferencing Privacy and Security Threats.

They used image processing, text recognition tools and social network analysis to explore a web-crawling curated dataset of more than 15,700 collage images, and over 142,000 facial images of meeting participants via the Zoom platform as the basis of the research.

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