Zoom is the video calling app selected during the COVID-19 epidemic. Unfortunately, some features make your meeting vulnerable to attack. Learn how to stop the bad guys and keep your calls safe.
Video calling app Zoom recently saw a series of activities as people around the world moved to remote work, school, and social media due to the new coronavirus. Zoom’s representative said by email that in December 2019, Zoom had an average of 10 million people attending the daily meeting. By March 2020, that figure is 200 million. More activity means more bad guys looking for security vulnerabilities and other ways to exploit the app. That’s how the term Bombing was born.
According to a report from Inside Higher Education, in some cases of Zoom-bombing, students exploited unsymed screen sharing to bring pornography and racism to everyone. In this and other cases of Zoom-bombing, the problem is not technical flaws in security. Here’s this: Zoom has some special features that make meetings safer, and they’re not enabled by default. Anyone who uses the app for the first time may easily be unaware of these features, making their meetings vulnerable to attack. The company acknowledged and resolved the issues quickly, launching a new Easy-to-See Security button and giving meeting organizers faster access to the tools they need.
The best way to stop Zoom-bombing is to stop it in the first place. You can do this by using the new Security options in your current call, but it’s also possible to do so first by turning the appropriate settings on or off. Preventing a battle is better than having to fight a battle.
Not every setting is available to free Zoom users, and in that case, there’s a note at the top that lets you know. In addition to maintaining control of your meeting, here are some other Zoom tips that will help you look like a pro.
1. Update your zoom app
If you want to see that new Security option in your meeting toolbar when you hold a meeting, you must update our app. Check for and install updates on all the devices you use Zoom.
2. Use unique IDs and Passwords for calls
When you create a Zoom account, the app will give you a personal meeting ID (PMI). It’s a code that you can give people when you want to meet them. However, you have the second option, which is to create a unique ID instead of using your PMI. Let me explain how different they are.
PMI is useful in specific cases. It’s great for regular meetings with a small group, such as weekly or one-on-one group meetings. You can use it multiple times and it never expires, so people can join without having to search for this week’s login code or link. It’s always been that way. However, once you give your PMI, anyone with a PMI can try to join your meetings at any time. If someone knows you’re attending a meeting and has your PMI, it’s easy for that person to spoil it.
Unique IDs vary every time you schedule a new meeting. As a result, it is inherently safer.
There’s one more layer of security that you can add here, passwords. Previously, when you scheduled a Zoom meeting, the app would use your PMI and not have a password by default. Now those settings have been swapped. The default is a unique ID with a password, so Zoom will automatically generate it. You can change that password if you want. You can also choose to add a password to a PMI meeting, and in that case, you must choose your own password, as Zoom will not create a password for you. When you set a password for PMI meetings, all future meetings will also require that password.
3. Create a lounge
A-Zoom call can start either way. It can start as soon as the first person logs into the call or can start when the host says the call will start. For small groups of people who know each other, people often sign in and talk small while waiting for others to join. Chit chat can be beneficial, especially for remote working people and classmates who don’t have much time to meet. However, for some types of calls, you may not want to let the participants chat with each other or even let the official call begin until you, the host, are ready.
In that second case, the solution is to create a Zoom Lounge. When participants sign in to the call, they’ll see a Lounge screen that you can customize. They can’t join the call until you, the host, allow them to join. You can allow people to join at the same time or one by one, which means that if you see names that you don’t recognize in the Lounge, you don’t have to let them in.
The new Security button has an option to turn on Lounge after your call has started. In this case, creating a Lounge will prevent anyone from breaking into your call.
4. Make sure only servers can share their screens
Don’t let anyone take control of the screen while calling Zoom. To prevent this, make sure your settings show that the only people allowed to share their screens are servers.
You can turn this setting on first as well as during a call.
Before that, go to the Zoom web portal (not the desktop app) and in settings, navigate to Personal> Settings> In meetings (Basics) and find Screen Sharing. Select the option that only the server can share.
During a call, you can use the Security button to change settings. You can also click the carrot facing up next to Screen Sharing and choose Advanced Sharing Options. There, select only for the server to share.
While sharing your screen or photos, Zoom has a great feature that allows participants to annote what they see. For visual collaboration, that’s great. For naughty participants, it seems like an invitation to bomb your call. You can turn off annot comments in the In-Meeting (Basics) section of your web account.
5. Create an invite-only meeting
This feature is only available for paid Zoom accounts.
One way to limit who can join your Zoom call is to set it to an invite-only meeting. That means the only people who can join the call are the people you invited, and they have to sign in with the same email address you used to invite them. It gives you much more assurance that people are as they say.
There are several ways you can enforce invite-only meetings, depending on the type of account you have. Its long and short thing is to look for an option called Profile Authentication.
Once you’ve turned it on, anyone else trying to join your meeting will see a notification on the screen that the meeting is only available to authorized attendees.
6. Lock a meeting when it starts
If you start a meeting and have all the people you want to join, you can lock the meeting with new participants. While the meeting is in full play, navigate to the bottom of the screen, and click Participants. The Participants table opens. At the bottom, choose Add> Lock meeting.
7. Kick someone out or detain them
Sometimes an inverted goose participant can slip through the cracks. As the meeting host, you have the right to exclude someone from the call or pause their call.
To remove someone: In the call, go to the Participants pane on the right. Hover over the name of the person you want to start, and when the options appear, select Delete.
By default, the ousted guest cannot re-join. What to do if you make a mistake? You can allow a startup party to re-join. Enable this feature by visiting the web portal and navigation to Settings> Meetings> In Meetings (Basic). Turn on the setting named Allow deleted participants to re-join.
Alternatively, you can pause someone. During the call, look for a video of the person you want to keep. I like to think of it as putting someone on pause time. Click on their video image and select Start keeping attendees. Once they’ve learned their lesson, you can tap Take Off Hold in the Participants table.
8. Turn off someone’s camera
The server can turn off any participant’s camera. If someone is rude or inappropriate on their video or video has some technical issues, the presenter can open the Participants table and click the video camera icon next to the person’s name.
9. Prevent animated GIFs and other files in a conversation
In the Zoom meeting chat area, participants can share files, including animated images and GIFs — if you allow them. If you don’t want to, make sure the file transfer is turned off. It is turned on by default, so you must actively turn it off.
For your own meetings, open Settings in the Zoom web app (not in the desktop app). On the left side, go to Personal> Settings. Then click In the meeting (Basic). Scroll down a little further until you see File Transfer. That’s where you can disable it.
Administrators of paid Zoom accounts have even more options for knowing exactly how to turn off file transfer for certain meetings or groups.
10. Manage Who Can Chat
If you’re organizing a Zoom call and have invited strangers to join, someone in your crowd can harass other participants by sending them a private message. Or people can start talking behind your back. You can prevent this by turning off private chat. When you turn private chat off, it doesn’t affect public conversations that people in the call can view and join.
Open Settings in the Zoom web app (it’s not in the desktop app). On the left side, go to Personal> Settings. Then click In the meeting (Basic). Scroll until you see Private Chat. When the button is gray, it is turned off.
You may also want to manage the conversation in other ways. From an active meeting, click the Chat icon in the toolbar at the bottom. A chat board opens on the right side. At the bottom, click on the three dots and decide which participant can chat with: no one, just the host or everyone.
Use these additional settings for large meetings
Not all Zoom interference causes are bad. Sometimes participants make mistakes and do not realize that a yawning dog or a crying child is causing disturbance to others. Or someone might accidentally upload a file that they didn’t mean to. Whenever you hold a meeting with more than one or two people, there are some settings in Zoom that you should review and familiarize yourself with before the call.
Ignore the participants. Do you know if the server can mute and unmute an individual or person on the call? While the call is in place, click Manage participants at the bottom of the Zoom window. The Participant dashboard opens and you can mute each person and turn off their camera by clicking on the microphone or camera icon next to their name. The option to mute people at the same time is at the bottom of this page.
Mute on entry. You can also automatically mute people when they join a call. Before the call starts, go to the web portal and navigate to Settings> Meeting and select the meeting. At the bottom of the screen, click on Edit meeting. Find Meeting options and check the box next to Ignore participants when importing.
If you don’t set it up before the deadline, you can still mute people when you enter the meeting. In the same table shown above, look for the Add option. Click it and select Ignore participants when typing. You’ll also see an option here to allow participants to make their own noises. It’s a useful setting if you want people to be able to speak up or ask questions at the right time.