In the wake of COVID-19 many family, friends, students, teachers and businesses have rushed to find a way to stay in touch. Video conferencing platforms have become an essential item for everybody. However, has that come at a cost? The video platform Zoom has become one of the nation’s top choices for video conferencing. This past week they experienced a breach which had many people reeling and worried that their information had become compromised.

Zoom has released a statement that they are taking every precaution to tighten up security and fix the issues caused and uncovered from the breach. Should you just take them at their word? The answer is no. While we still recommend using Zoom as a safe way to video conference, the following are some recommendations and precautions you can take as the end user to make Zoom more secure.

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Privacy Settings

Make Sure Chat Auto-Saving is Off

 In your Zoom account settings under In Meeting (Basic), make sure Auto is toggled to the left. 

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Make Sure “Attention Tracking” is Off

In your Zoom account settings under In Meeting (Advanced), make sure Attention Tracking is toggled to the left.

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Use a Virtual Background

Showing the space you are in can expose a lot about you including where you live, your habits and hobbies etc.  If you are uncomfortable having your living space in the background of your calls, you can set a virtual background.

From the Zoom.us menu in the top right hand corner of your screen, while using Zoom, navigate to Preferences and then Virtual Backgrounds.

 

Best Practices for Avoiding “Bad Actors”

With video conferencing, specifically Zoom, being more widely used, trolls and bad actors will and have tried to take advantage. Public meeting IDs have allowed these people to invade people’s meetings with harassing messages, inappropriate images and slurs. If you or anybody you know is hosting a meeting, consider taking the steps below to protect against this “zoombombing.”

  • Keep Your Meeting IDs Private
    • Whenever possible, do NOT post the link to your meeting or the meeting ID publicly. Instead, send the link directly to who you need it to get to and only TRUSTED groups.
  • Set a Meeting Password
    • In your Zoom account settings under Schedule Meeting, toggle Require a password when scheduling new meetings, on to the right. There are also additional password options as well.

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BEWARE, however, that Zoom passwords can behave in unexpected ways.

If you use the “copy invitation” feature to get a copy of the meeting link and send it to your meet mates, the link may include your meeting password. Take a VERY close look at any unusually long URLs with question marks in them, which may mean a meeting password is included.

If you do need to post your meeting publicly, consider posting your meeting ID but sending the meeting password separately and privately to each meeting participant.

Lock Down Screen Sharing

In your Zoom account settings under In Meeting (Basic), set Screen Sharing to Host Only. This means that ONLY the Host of the meeting can share their screen and not the participants.

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Use Waiting Rooms to Approve Participants

 

In your Zoom Account settings under In Meeting (Advanced), enable Waiting Room by toggling to the right.

A waiting room will allow the host to see waiting participants and make sure they are the appropriate parties before they are allowed to join.

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Lock the Meeting

 

When you have started the meeting and it is active and you are sure all participants have arrived, you can “lock” the meeting to prevent anybody else from joining. Click Participants at the bottom of the Zoom window, and select Lock Meeting.