Journalist Gains Access to Confidential EU Defense Video Call

A Dutch journalist hacked into a meeting of EU defense ministers after one of them posted the login details on Twitter.
Conor Cawley

The confidence in video conferencing software security took another hit this week, as a Dutch reporter reportedly gained access to a confidential meeting of EU defense ministers.

Between online work meetings and virtual social events, the pandemic has substantially spurred the use of video conferencing software in recent months. Unfortunately, due to the sudden influx of users, security issues have been a consistent problem for platforms like Zoom and Google Meet, and the breaches get more and more unique every day.

In fact, the means by which a Dutch reporter gained access to one of the most confidential video chats out there is a lot more embarrassing than it is impressive.

Journalist “Hacks” Into Confidential EU Defense Ministers' Video Call

On Friday, Ank Bijleveld, the Dutch defense minister, attended a video call with other EU defense ministers. In her excitement, the defense minister tweeted a photo of herself, along with a screenshot of the video meeting in question, to her tens of thousands of followers. Unfortunately, that photo contained the login details and most of the PIN code required to enter the meeting.

Enter Daniël Verlaan, a Dutch reporter for RTL Nieuws, who spotted the lapse in judgement, and took it upon himself — as any good reporter would — to guess the remaining PIN code digits to gain access to a confidential meeting of EU defense ministers. And it worked.

“In a number of attempts, RTL Nieuws succeeded in guessing the PIN code of the secret consultation, because five of the six digits of the pin code were visible in the photo,” said the news outlet in a statement.

Fortunately, most of the defense ministers laughed off the egregious security breach, with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell half-jokingly telling him to quickly jump off the call “before the police arrives.”

Unfortunately for Verlaan and the rest of RTL news, other authorities don't find the breach as comical, responding in turn with a stern warning.

“Such a breach is illegal and will be reported to the authorities,” said a Foreign Affairs Council spokesman to RTL.

The Dutch defense minister admitted that the whole fiasco was the result of “a stupid mistake,” but the breach still raises some serious questions about the security of video conferencing solutions.

Have you used video conferencing software before?

How to Be Secure on Video Calls

The Council of the EU recognized that this security breach is a bit unprecedented, but hardly unexpected, as the world has begun to understand the potential threats posed by this technology.

“We have all the time been conscious of, and have warned that, videoconferences are vulnerable from a security point of view,” said one Council official.

While you might not be protecting the EU's defense secrets on your video calls, being safe while in meetings is always a good move. Here are a few tips for staying safe while video conferencing with coworkers, friends, and family.

  • Never share login details publicly
  • Ensure your meeting is password protected
  • Enable host controls, like waiting room and mute
  • Disable unnecessary sharing features
  • Always update to the latest version of your platform

If you really want to make sure your video meetings are secure though, you're going to want to dig into the kinds of security provided by specific video conferencing providers, and that's where we can help.

Video Conferencing Solutions

At Tech.co, we've done a whole lot of research regarding video conferencing platforms to figure out which ones are the best. We've looked into the features, prices, security measures, and everything in between to make sure you know exactly what you're getting with one of these platforms.

For a little context, take a look at the table below to get a better idea of what kind of video conferencing solutions are available. You can even get a quick quote for your business to start the process off on the right foot.

0 out of 0
Best for
Free plan
Price from
The lowest starting price for a paid plan. The lowest price available for your business will depend on your needs.
Pros
Cons

GoToMeeting

Zoom

RingCentral

Lifesize

Webex

UberConference

BlueJeans

Skype

Google Meet

Overall conference calling

Beginners

Longer meetings

Users that need hardware

Larger businesses

International calls

Users that need customer support

Microsoft users

Google users

$14.99/month

$14.99/month

$12.95/month

$13.50/month

$15/month

$12-$16/month

Free

$8/month

  • High quality audio and video
  • Very reliable and secure
  • Lower cost than competitors
  • Easy to use
  • Impressive free version available
  • Intuitive interface
  • Lots of customizability
  • Can also be used for Glip
  • 1080p video and HD audio,
  • Integrates with third-party apps
  • Good value
  • Feature-rich software
  • High quality audio and video
  • Easy setup
  • Simple interface
  • Easy to set up
  • Recording function
  • Amazing sound quality
  • Lots of features
  • Many software integrations
  • AI-powered chatbots
  • Strong integration features
  • Custom hold music
  • Google Calendar compatibility
  • Saves chat logs
  • Easy integration with Google apps
  • Weak free plan
  • Poor audio quality
  • 24-hour meeting limit expires in July 2021
  • Unsophisticated chat function
  • Occasional bandwidth issues
  • Hard to use outside of Chrome
  • Connectivity issues without update
  • Too few total users
  • Spotty connectivity
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Conor is the Senior Writer for Tech.co. For the last five years, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His extensive background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host tech-centric events like Startup Night at SXSW and the Timmy Awards for Tech in Motion. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.

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