How can I stay safe when using Zoom?

One of the defining features of life in lockdown has been the huge surge in online meetings. They’ve helped businesses and colleagues keep in touch and stay productive, bringing the essential ingredients of faces and body language into virtual meetings. But they’ve been used for much more than just work – friends and families have been using them too, to stay in touch, enjoy virtual drinks or host quizzes.

There are lots of online meeting tools out there, but one in particular really has caught the imagination of the public: Zoom. As a free service that’s easy to use and compatible across most computers and smartphones, its popularity has gone from strength to strength.

But it isn’t without controversy. Stories have emerged of intruders gatecrashing others’ meetings (a practice that quickly became known as ‘zoombombing’), whether to cause mischief or intercept information.

Zoom has now announced that it will introduce end-to-end encryption for all users to help provide a more secure experience. But there are still several best practices you should follow to ensure you and your data stays secure. Here are five simple tips:

  1. Keep your account, and your meetings, protected

As with any other online account, make sure you choose a strong, unique password that’s not easy to guess.

There’s a further consideration in Zoom – your Personal Meeting ID, given to you when you set up your account. Keep this ID safe, because anyone who has it can in theory join any meeting you host.

It’s also best practice to set up a password for every meeting you host. While it can seem like a chore to do this, especially for a quick get together with your family, it does provide an added element of protection.

  1. Be careful where you share links to meetings

If you’re having a public meeting that friends and family can join, be aware that anyone could gain access if they have the right link. So, when sharing the link with people you want to include, do it via a one-to-one message like an email or text message – and ask them not to share with anyone else.

In particular, don’t post links to your meetings on social media platforms. Trolls have been known to search social networks for public Zoom links that they can join.

  1. Keep the waiting room enabled

If an unwanted visitor does somehow find your meeting, they won’t be able to join the conversation if you have the waiting room feature enabled. This gives you control of when participants can join, and the power to remove people altogether.

  1. Remember what’s on your screen before you share

Like many other online meeting tools, screen sharing is a key feature of Zoom. When you do share your screen, take a second to consider what information you might be making public – whether it’s a confidential document you have open, or personal accounts for email or online banking.

  1. Beware of imitators

As with any major online trend, scammers are jumping on the Zoom bandwagon. Be very wary of fake Zoom apps in smartphone app stores – always use the official apps and check reviews if you need to be sure. You should also watch out for phishing attempts using fake Zoom meeting URLs to make you click on a malicious link. Don’t click on anything before you’re sure, and check with the sender if a meeting is genuine if there’s any doubt. You can find out more about how phishing scams work here.

If you have any questions about online meeting security, or your own tips to share, please leave a comment below. And check out our posts on similar topics below: