Secure Video Calls with Google Hangouts

Video calls are an excellent way of communicating with people, but are they secure? Google has made a name for itself when it comes to user security and privacy. Google Hangouts video calls are no exception to this rule. Google Hangouts take place between two individual parties over a secured connection called Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS).

You can read a detailed, and technical, explanation of HTTPS here on prinston.edu. Basically HTTPS takes the standard Hypertext Transfer protocol (HTTP) on which all Internet communication occurs, and adds Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypted security. These standards are discussed in detail here. This SSL/TLS is where the real heavyweight security comes into play.

HTTPS Visual Security

HTTPS Visual Security

During your Hangout session you always have the opportunity of visually verifying that your conversation is taking place over a secure connection. Look in the upper left corner of your browser window (just to the left of where you type text to visit a website) here you’ll see a lock symbol.

HTTPS Visual Security Certificate

HTTPS Visual Security Certificate

Clicking on that lock symbol will bring up a box containing the security certificate information. Click the image on the right to view an example of a security certificate as seen in the Google Chrome browser. We recommend using the most up to date version of the Chrome browser available as a free download here.

Hangout Security Features

Google Hangouts offer a number of advantages for secure private communication on top of their encrypted foundation. Much like a speakerphone conversation, a Hangouts video call is as secure as the people involved. Both parties must be aware of any other persons in either room. Once confidence has been established in the integrity of both ends of the conversion it can proceed securely.

Another security feature of Hangouts video calls is that they can only be joined by invitation. This means you don’t have to worry about a third party even being aware of your secure conversation. Also no one can join your conversation without your express invitation.

How to Get Started with Hangouts

Upgrade to the New Hangouts

Upgrade to the New Hangouts

One of the easiest ways of getting started with Hangouts is right in your Gmail account. With an existing Gmail account you may already have an older version of Hangouts installed. If so look on the left hand side about midway down the screen. You’ll see a small profile image, and a green camera icon. Click this and you’ll see what’s in the screen shot to the left of this text.

Google will then present you with an overview of how to use the new Hangouts. If you don’t already have a Google+ account you will be prompted to create one. You can either opt to create one at this point or click “not now” to continue.

If you don’t have a Gmail account you can sign up for a free personal account right here. New Gmail accounts come with the new Hangouts app already installed. Once logged into your new Gmail account simply enter the email address of the person you wish to start a Hangout with and you’re ready to go.

Hangouts for Communication

Hangouts are an excellent way for clients to communicate securely with council on private legal matters. The Hangouts service not only provides secure two way communication, but does so using a medium that promotes trust. Video calls are a way of meeting a client face to face without the need for any travel.

Providing a secure instant means of meeting face to face is a service that more people are coming to expect. Increasingly people have access to high speed Internet as well as devices equipped for video conferencing.

With a name like Google standing behind Hangouts, and a foundation built on HTTPS security the Hangouts video conferencing service is an excellent choice for secure video calls.

About the Author

You can connect with the author, John Dietrich, on G+ by visiting this link. John holds a BSBA from the University of Southern Mississippi in Management Information Systems where he graduated with honors. Of particular interest is his course work in Internet security.