As we settle into the new normal of social distancing and working from home, more and more of us are using video conferencing tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams to replace team meetings, birthday parties or just checking in with family and friends.
These are great tools and are proving vital at the moment, but it is important to note that we have to be mindful with how we use this tool. Zoom in particular has come under growing scrutiny for a number of security issues, where unsavoury individuals have been found to join open meetings and share undesirable content.
While you should be aware of these issues, it does not mean you should stop using Zoom. That’s why we wanted to highlight some sensible precautions you can take to stay safe online and make Zoom a safe platform for communicating with family, friends or coworkers.
We advise you watch the video below first, so you are familiar with the settings you should change and where they’re located.
Settings to check as the Zoom Host
- Check your Zoom settings. There are a number of settings in Zoom that can help keep your meeting safe. Use passwords to protect the meeting, mute attendees upon joining and lock the ‘screen sharing’ tool so that an attendee can’t take over the meeting without permission.
- Be aware you can kick out users. Keep an eye on the users in your meeting, and if you spot one who shouldn’t be there, remove them. Click the Manage Participants button, then next to the user you want to remove click More, then Remove.
- Be careful when sharing Zoom meeting links. Don’t share links to Zoom meetings publicly online, such as on Twitter or Facebook profiles. Send them privately to the users you want to attend via email or text message.
- Lock your meetings. Once all invited users have joined the meeting click the Participants button, then click the Lock Meeting option. This prevents new participants from joining, even if they have found the password online.
Advice for Zoom Attendees
As an attendee you have fewer options to protect the meeting but you can still be sensible about how you communicate with others:
- Don’t use Zoom chats for private messages. If you’re attending a meeting and send a private message to another attendee, the Zoom meeting host can access a transcript of this.
- Don’t share personal information. This is a good general rule of thumb for spending time online – always assume that anything you’re typing or saying can be accessed. You should use the same rules for judging what information is private as you would in a public space.
- Turn off video and mute yourself unless needed. This not only helps the meeting run smoothly, it also prevents the software from inadvertently recording other conversations in your home or accidentally sharing personal information.
While this may seem scary, these are just some simple rules which can help you use video conferencing safely.
Further information for parents/carers
For parents who are worried about their children using Zoom, we do recommend that you accompany younger children for video conferencing sessions where possible to ensure the proper security procedures are followed. For older children you should make sure they are clearly aware of how to keep themselves safe. The main rules are not to share personal information, to mute themselves when they’re not speaking, and not interacting with any other user if they do not know who it is.
Of course, the key lesson to take from this, is always to be conscious of how much information you are sharing online, and to take sensible precautions. Following these simple security procedures will allow you and your loved ones to use video conferencing tools safely and without concerns.