News & Press: Audiovisual and IT

Zoom Communication Platform Security and Privacy tips

Tuesday, April 14, 2020  
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by Ferooz Sekandarpoor, SimGHOSTS President

Disclaimer: SimGHOSTS uses Zoom for its internal meetings and webinars and does not sell Zoom products, the opinions expressed in this blog belong to the writer who is a Zoom user.

With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of workforces around the world started to use some sort of online collaboration tool, such as WebEx, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, UberConference and more.

Zoom has become one of the most popular methods for conducting day-to-day business for schools, universities and businesses.  Below is some basic information about the platform and information on security and privacy issues that have arisen.

What is Zoom?

Zoom is a cloud-based platform that provides remote conferencing services that combines video conferencing, online meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration.  It is a platform that allows individuals, institutions, and businesses to meet with their friends, employees, co-workers, and clients.  It gives the participants the ability to share content and interact with each other using computers and mobile devices.  Although the technology has existed since 2013, it has become more popular after the outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. 

Signing up for Zoom is FREE with additional paid plans that can found on their website: www.zoom.us/pricing

Core Features of Zoom:

  • One-on-One Meetings (ability to meet with your coworker and share content)
  • Group video conferencing (ability to have a group video conference, up to 500 participants)
  • Content Sharing (ability to share your desktop or application with your audience and Whiteboard, e.g. PowerPoint, PDF, .jpg) 
  • Chat

Zoom’s Security/Privacy Issues:

One of the biggest security issues facing Zoom is the surge in "Zoombombing," when uninvited attendees break into and disrupt your meeting.  There are reports that students or hackers have exploited the content sharing features of Zoom and have shared pornographic and racist content. 

The following are 10 Security and Privacy Tips and Steps that you could use in order to prevent or stop such issues:

1. When scheduling your meeting DO NOT use your Personal Meeting ID (PMI). If you have a public meeting, make sure to Password Protect your meeting which creates another layer of security.

This screenshot shows how to create a unique ID for your meeting, which enables a password for your meeting.

2. Waiting Room: Enabling this feature allows the host to monitor who is able to attend/enter a meeting. Some hackers still may bypass this feature, especially in meetings with larger participant numbers. 

 

3. Join Before Host: It is recommended to disable this feature. 

 

4. Make sure that ‘Only Hosts’ are allowed to share their screens.
Limiting the ability for attendees to share their screen prevents hackers/hijackers from taking over and sharing unrelated materials. 

This feature could be configured at the Zoom Online Portal before that meeting (above left) or could also be enabled during the meeting by clicking on the Share Screen>>Advanced Sharing Options (above right).

 

5. Invite-Only Meeting

Enabling this feature during the scheduling of your meeting will restrict anonymous logins, which will allow only invited attendees to participate. This feature can be enabled on the Zoom Online Portal. 

 

6.  Disabling Private Chat

Disabling this feature will stop someone from sending inappropriate messages. This feature can be disabled on the Zoom Online Portal shown below.

7.  Locking Meetings

Once everyone who was invited has joined, Lock the meeting.  This stops any unwanted attendees.  Click on Participants button>>At the bottom, choose More>Lock Meeting

8. Prevent File Sharing

Zoom allows participants and hosts to share files during meetings.  While this is a great feature, it could be dangerous.  If your meeting is compromised, someone could share inappropriate files in the Chat that would be visible to all attendees. I would recommend only enabling this feature if your meeting or session requires it. This option could be accessed from the Zoom Online Portal.  On the left side, go to Personal > SettingsClick In Meeting (Basic). Scroll down until you see File Transfer.

 

9.  Remove or Put Someone on Hold

As a host of a meeting, you are able to remove someone or put someone ‘on hold’ if they misbehave or do not belong in the meeting. Go to the Participants pane on the right. Move your mouse over the name of the person you want to remove and when options appear, choose REMOVE (pictured below left).

To put someone on HOLD: Move your mouse over the name of the person you want to remove and when options appear, choose PUT on HOLD (pictured above right).

10.  Mute all of the Participants

When you are the host of a meeting, you have the ability to Mute participants.  This is especially helpful in preventing unwelcome participants. To do this you need to follow the steps below.

There are many other features on Zoom Online Portal that you could explore to 'enable or disable' to prevent any "Zoombombing."  Zoom also has a great online support library that explains its features in more detail.