How Secure is Live Chat?
It's always smart to think before you speak. By doing so, you have time to consider the impact of what you want to communicate and the accuracy of your communication. The process of considering the content of your communication is a private matter. It occurs within your head and is often tweaked before it flows from your mouth. In this situation, you're in control. You determine when your ideas are "sent" to others via language.
The same holds true with email. You write an email, you tweak it to make sure it communicates appropriately and then, when you're ready to share it, you click "send."
But what if it was possible for a stranger to tap into your mind and view the "rough draft" of your communication before you had time to consider its accuracy and potential impact? Would you feel like this was a violation of your privacy? What if someone could peek at your first cut of an email before you felt comfortable sharing it?
Today, we're in a constant battle to maintain our privacy. The best way to protect yourself is to be aware of situations where you're at risk of falling prey to those who just have to see what you're doing. As we all do more online, here's one potential privacy hazard you probably didn't consider — live chat.
Be warned! When accessing a website's live chat functionality, you may be opening a door to your thoughts. Someone may be able to see your "rough draft" without your knowledge. Depending on the live chat functionality in use, your privacy may be in jeopardy.
Most people don't know that some live chat functionality provides the chat agent with the ability to see what a visitor is typing before that visitor hits the "send" button. In this instance, you're not in control of when your thoughts are communicated to someone else. This might be OK if you were aware that this was happening, but without this knowledge you're likely to believe that it's OK to formulate your thoughts in the chat window and tweak as needed in private and then, when you're ready, click "send" and share your thoughts with the chat agent.
Absent the knowledge that a chat agent may be watching what you type in the chat window is an invasion of your privacy. It's essentially spying. Now you might not think this is a significant issue, but what if the live chat you engage in deals with sensitive financial or medical information? What if you're unsure of the trustworthiness of the person you're chatting with? And regardless, it's still the equivalent of spying.
So, what should you do? When starting a live chat, the first question you should ask is "Can you see what I type in the chat window before I click the send button?" You can also ask, "What live chat software do you use?" These two questions can help protect your private information.
Jeff Mason is the vice president of marketing at Velaro, a live chat software provider.