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Zoom Security Basics: How To Secure Your Conferencing

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If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past year, then you know what Zoom is. Chances are, you’ve used it yourself many times. And if you know about and use Zoom, then you probably also know about the major security issues Zoom had back in March and April 2020.

The application became hugely popular, and the company wasn’t ready for that many people to start using it. By the end of April 2020, Zoom 5.0 was released and addressed most of the major security concerns users had experienced until then.

The 5.0 release included features such as:

  • AES 256-bit encryption (the encryption level that other video conferencing software use)
  • Data routing controls
  • A more visible security settings menu for meeting hosts
  • Default waiting room
  • Default passwords to join meetings
  • Password-protected cloud recordings
  • Changes to contact sharing options

These changes took care of a lot of the immediate problems Zoom had, but the application is far from 100% secure. Zoom’s security issues aren’t so bad that you should stop using it, but you do need to be careful.

Keep these Zoom security basics in mind when you host or hop on your next video conference.

Don’t share your personal meeting ID

Your personal meeting ID is just that — personal. Don’t create public meetings with a personal meeting ID and never send it to anyone over social media.

Use the official Zoom software

When applications and software are as popular as Zoom, there’s bound to be hackers creating fake versions to trick people into downloading malware. Only download the desktop application from the official website: zoom.us. Don’t use someone else’s “download link.” Go directly to their site to install it. If you’re downloading the mobile app, get it through the App Store or Google Play directly as well.

Enable session lockdown

The session lockdown feature allows you to lock your session after it’s started. Even people with the meeting ID and password won’t be able to join after you enable session lockdown. It prevents anyone from interrupting your session halfway through.

Use your work email

If you’re planning to use Zoom for work-related calls, create an account with your work email. Zoom had a glitch where accounts created with email addresses containing the same domain name were automatically grouped together (except for major email providers like gmail.com). Accounts “grouped together” could view each other’s contact information. This security feature shouldn’t be a concern unless you have a personal email account with a smaller service provider, however.

It’s very easy for hackers or nefarious persons to get ahold of conference or meeting links if they’re on social media. Even if you publish it in a private or closed group, cyber attackers still manage ways to find it. If you’re hosting a public event on Zoom and want to promote it on social media, go ahead. But ask people to register or send you their email address before giving away the meeting link.

Password-protect your meeting

Currently, all Zoom meetings require either a passcode or a Waiting Room. A Waiting Room puts participants into a queue and allows the meeting host to give them access to the video call manually. A passcode requires users to enter a code before they can access the meeting. Make sure you activate at least one of these options for your Zoom meetings.

Keep the software up to date

This is cybersecurity 101: always keep your apps and programs updated. Whether you have the Zoom desktop application or the Zoom mobile app, make sure you have the latest version. You can find out what the latest version is online and go into your app settings to check you have the right one.

Be careful when sharing your screen

It should be common sense, but you’d be surprised at how little discretion some people have with screen sharing. Although Zoom has a feature that allows you to share only part of your screen, a few German researchers recently discovered a security flaw with this feature. They noticed that even if you only share part of your screen, for a moment participants can see your entire screen anyway. If someone is recording the call, they can play it back and freeze the image and potentially see sensitive information on your screen that you didn’t want to share.

Sharing a partial screen is a useful feature in theory, but it’s probably best to just make sure you have no compromising information on your screen at all before you share it. Also, don’t let participants record your meeting.

Other Zoom security features you should know about

Zoom gives meeting hosts a lot of ways to secure their meeting. Below are some more useful features to look into that weren’t mentioned above:

  • Securing a meeting with encryption tools
  • Requiring a host to be present before the meeting starts
  • Expelling a participant and not allowing them to rejoin
  • Suspending participant activities
  • Enabling audio signatures
  • Screen sharing watermarks
  • Only allowing individuals with a certain email domain to join

Like all major applications, Zoom isn’t without its security problems. It’s often targeted by hackers because it’s so popular, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid using it altogether. As long as you’re aware of the potential risks and take steps to mitigate them, you can use Zoom securely.

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