Safety and security during Video Conferencing with Zoom are nowadays thought of concern. We see a lot of Zoom-Bombing victims on a regular basis. With a phase of lockdown, everyone is resorting to working from home. Even schools and colleges are taking their lectures online via Zoom, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams and other such platforms.
Recently Zoom has come under the radar due to its security issues, and now open meetings are termed as an insecure way to connect with anyone. With people abusing the video calling app for pranks, fun and making memes they have stepped up a game and created groups to share Zoom meeting ID and password on Telegram, Reddit and different social media platforms. So the question in place even comes for a secure meeting.
If you have been a target of such an event where a lot of strangers suddenly joins a meaningful discussion and starts sharing their screens with undesirable content, then we are incredibly sorry. Still, now it’s time to prevent such activities and take control of your Zoom meetings by tweaking some in-app settings and staying alert. Here’s how.
Double Check the Zoom Website
Starting with basics, it’s quintessential that you are using a correct Zoom website. Make sure it reads https://www.zoom.us and not something else like zooom.us, z00m.com, or z0om.org. There are many variations to this, and it’s quite surprising that millions of people on a daily basis fall for this scam. It is known as phishing and can be very dangerous if you are using the malicious version of Zoom software downloaded from such imposter websites. If you think there’s something wrong with your version of the app, please run an antivirus scan, or it is always safe to uninstall and reinstall again from their official website.
Most of us get zoom invite links via emails, so it’s better to check the link before opening it.
Change Default Zoom Settings to make Meetings and Calls Secure
Zoom comes with some default settings that make it easy to use, but it’s not secure enough and is prone to hacking if you have not changed. So next, we will show you all the settings that you need to alter to have a pleasant Zoom Meeting experience.
First, open the Zoom app and sign-in. Now click on the Settings option and select the Profile from the left menu. In Profile, click on View Advanced Features, and it will take you to the Zoom website. Sign-in over there if you are logged out. Alternatively, you can directly head over to the zoom website advanced settings from here.
Now there are multiple settings which we will alter. A brief explanation of those changes has been mentioned for a better understanding.
Enable Waiting Rooms
When Zoom came into limelight, there was no waiting room feature. You can toggle it on to keep your participants in a waiting area. Once a participant joins, they can’t directly attend your Meeting. You can see a list of all the participants in the waiting area and approve them as you see fit. Here enabling this feature will also ensure that participants can’t join before the meeting host.
Sometimes it is difficult to start on time, especially for lecturers and other businessmen who are in some different meetings, waiting rooms will sort out your timing problems. It lets a participant in before, but they can only start after the host’s arrival and permission.
Meeting Link and Password
Next option is to set your meeting ID and password. By default there will be an admin lock enabled on the account which requires you to compulsorily use password authentication for every Zoom meeting that you create. We suggest you change your password frequently. It will be a primary requirement to join scheduled, instant and personal ID meetings.
Now next up there will be an option that says ‘Embed passcode in invite link for one-click join‘, you can keep it active, but for personal meetings or for small groups we suggest you hand over passwords to all participants privately so even if the link gets leaked somewhere then too it won’t cause you any trouble.
User Authentication and Encryption
Enable the option ‘Only authenticated users can join meetings from Web client‘. With this only, the users who are signed in with Zoom will be able to join your meetings. This is an important feature, and it is connected with other security features to identify guest participants which are explained later.
In Meetings (basic), enable ‘Require encryption for 3rd party endpoints (SIP/H.323)‘. It will make sure that anyone who plans to join your room will be forced to use encryption while they connect with you. It increases security, and even if the participant’s connection is intercepted, then also hackers can’t get any details of the meetings whatsoever.
Disable Join before Host
If you have kept waiting rooms feature enabled then the option ‘Join before host’ will stay disabled by default. This option will make sure that no attendee can join before the host. It can be used to make sure that nothing happened before you start the Meeting.
Manage Participant and Host Permissions
In this section, we have discussed some basic and important settings that will decide participant behaviour and overall control that you can establish on the Zoom meetings that you organize.
Starting with participant entry, enable the option ‘Mute participants upon entry’. This will mute their microphones by default, so even if some stranger ends up entering your lecture or discussion, they won’t be able to do much harm.
2. Zoom Chat features
Chat features on Zoom can be easily abused. Anyone can send malicious links or abusive text and even harass any participant. You can generally disable the group chat feature turning off’ Allow meeting participants to send a message visible to all participants‘. This will disable the group chat feature. Alternatively, you can even disable the 1:1 or private chat.
If you are having a confidential discussion, then you can tick ‘Prevent participants from saving chat‘. With this, no one can save any discussion that you had over the group texting feature.
3. File Transfer
Always keep the option ‘Hosts and participants can send files through the in-meeting chat’ disabled unless it is required. Anybody can send malicious files and pursue you to download it. It’s always a best practise to share documents and files over emails.
4. Screen Sharing
This is a favourite feature of Zoom bombers. There are many cases where they showed undesirable content to everyone, and the host had to cancel the Meeting forcefully. So to avoid such things from happening, it’s best to select Host-Only under ‘Who can share?’ in Screen Sharing. This way, you as host will be able to share your screen while other users won’t be able to do it. If required, you can always turn this to All Participants and switch back to the previous settings.
5. Participants Appearance
You can always remove the suspicious participants. For them to not rejoin and disturb you, disable the feature’ Allow removed participants to rejoin’.With this once a participant is removed, they won’t be able to rejoin your Zoom meeting.
One more important feature here is about allowing participants to rename themselves. You can choose this as per your comfort. It could be possible that kids are using their parents account to view school lectures, so it entirely depends on your preference.
Another feature that can be exploited is off showing profile pictures. Let’s say by mistake you let somebody unknown into your Meeting as you can’t see their profile picture while allowing them to join then it could be a disaster even if you took a lot of precautions. Plus it is more professional just to keep names instead of Profile pictures. So you can enable this setting where only the name is shown by turning on ‘Hide participant profile pictures in a meeting‘.
6. Camera Control
This is an exciting feature provided by Zoom, which lets a participant control your camera. Generally 90% of the time you won’t need this feature. You can disable it under In Meeting (advanced) ‘Far-end camera control’. Though a user would need your permission to take control of the camera it’s always safer to keep it disabled.
7. Update your Zoom App
The final thing left to do is update your Zoom app. It is quintessential to keep up to date and have all the latest bug fixes and security patches rather than being a victim of hacking or any malicious activity. Regularly check for updates by clicking on your profile icon from the upper right corner and choosing ‘Check for Updates’ option. This will show you a pop up if there’s an update available and then you can download the latest updates.
Zoom has made it possible to reconnect with your loved ones, attend meetings, lectures and everything else remotely while at your comfort. Let’s preserve its essence and not allow someone else to ruin it by taking full control of your Zoom meeting. Follow this Zoom safety Guide to keep unwanted participants away.