Safety and Security While Video Conferencing with Zoom

In these days of self-isolation and social distancing, the video conferencing platform Zoom has exploded in popularity as a significant platform for online meetings, webinars, and even online discos.

However, Zoom has recently come under fire due to a number of reported security issues with the platform. A zero-day vulnerability has recently been disclosed, and numerous users have noted that Zoom bombers are joining open meetings and sharing undesirable content. Zoom has also been found to overshare data with Facebook via their iOS app, a problem now fixed. BleepingComputer recently reported about a newly found vulnerability in Zoom that allows an attacker to steal Windows login credentials from other users.

If You’re Required to use Zoom as a Meeting Host

However, Zoom is one of the most widely known platforms, and when participating we don’t often get to choose which system we’ll be meeting on. Sometimes our employers require a certain platform, or sometimes our audience expects it. If you don’t have a choice in which platform to use, there are still some steps you can take to heighten your meeting security.

This video reviews some settings in your Zoom account that can help prevent Zoom bombing and ensure that your attendees have a safe experience.

Adjust your Zoom settings. There are a number of settings in Zoom that can help you keep your meeting safe. Lock down your meetings with passwords, mute attendees on joining, and lock down screen sharing so that an attendee can’t take over your meeting with their screen without your permission.

Kick out users. You can kick a user out of your room. You shouldn’t have to if you’ve secured your Zoom account but know that this is available to you. Click Manage Participants at the bottom of the Zoom window. Click More next to the person you want to remove. From the list that appears, click Remove and confirm.

Share Zoom links carefully. Without any controls in place, a Zoom link will let anyone join. Don’t share your Zoom meeting link in public places like social media or other public forums. Hackers and pranksters have been searching for these and accessing meeting rooms at will, wreaking havoc on business meetings and even online schooling.

Lock your meetings. Once a meeting has started and everyone is present, click Participants at the bottom of your Zoom window. In the Participants pop-up box, you will see a button that says Lock Meeting. When you lock the meeting, no new participants can join, even if they have the meeting ID and password.

Disable “allow removed participants to rejoin” . This is checked by default. Of course, remember that if your main presenter drops their connection they will not be able to get back into the room if you have locked the room.

It is critical to manage the number of participants . When sharing with large groups it is best to have someone who is not the presenter/host to watch the participants. In a webinar situation, this person can enable and disable individuals while the presenter focuses on delivery.

Using Video Conferencing as an Attendee

Don’t use Zoom chats for private messages. If you’re attending a meeting and want to send a private message to another attendee, be aware that when your Zoom meeting is being recorded, the room owner will receive a transcript of everything you say privately.

Don’t share personal information . As with any public forum, assume that anything you type into chat or say in a Zoom meeting, you are being recorded and you don’t have control of what happens to that recording. Don’t share personally identifiable information with anyone, whether private or publicly.

Turn off video and mute yourself unless needed . If you’re attending a class or meeting and you don’t need video or audio, mute yourself and turn off your video. This prevents video conferencing from inadvertently recording conversations in your home or exposing information you might not want it to.

Helping Children to Use Zoom

As many schools transition to distance learning, helping our kids understand the importance of security and privacy is important and a great life lesson.

Zoom has some resources for school administrators to help them get started, but don’t assume that a teacher is fully versed in all of Zoom’s tools. Many are teaching online for the first time, and everyone is under a little more stress than usual. If you’re able to support a teacher as a moderator, you’ll make the learning experience better for everyone.

For younger students, stay with your child during online video conferencing. Schools should be asking for parental consent for video conferencing, and minors are not allowed to create Zoom accounts.

For older children, teach them good video conferencing etiquette, including muting when they’re not speaking, not using the chat function, and not downloading files via Zoom.

Ask teachers if students can use aliases instead of real names, and find ways to limit the amount and depth of personal sharing via any channel online, whether video or otherwise.

Consider alternatives

There are other video conferencing platforms out there such as Webex, GoToMeeting, and Jitsi. Jitsi is free and open source software and has the following features:

  • Anyone who can run a Chromium based browser can use it.
  • Meetings are very simple to set up.
  • There are no login requirements.
  • No data is stored on the host server.
  • Communications are encrypted.
  • There are Android/Apple applications for mobile devices.
  • There is an Electron-based desktop application with remote-desktop support.

Adapted from: https://www.wordfence.com/blog/2020/04/safety-and-security-while-video-conferencing/