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Keeping your Zoom meeting safe

Keeping your Zoom meeting safe
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Keeping your Zoom meeting safe
Robert Best - Infotech by Robert Best - Infotech
Digital Marketing Manager - Infotech

The video-conferencing platform Zoom has hit the headlines for the wrong reason, with an admission by the company that it has fallen short on security as more people have started using it during the coronavirus lockdown for both work and social communication. So is it a safe platform for your business conference calls? I.T. expert Robert Best of Infotech has been looking into the problems Zoom has experienced and has pulled together tips to keep your Zoom meeting secure.

Why are there concerns about Zoom’s safety?

On 2nd April 2020, the BBC reported that the chief of Zoom, Eric Yuan, had apologised for having ‘fallen short’ on security issues in the platform, following a blog on the platform’s website in which he noted that:

‘Usage of Zoom has ballooned overnight – far surpassing what we expected when we first announced our desire to help in late February.’

Saying it is a privilege helping people stay connected, Yuan said that the number of daily meeting Zoom participants had increased from 10 million in December 2019 to more than 200 million in March 2020, with the user profile morphing from primarily enterprise users with full IT support:

“We did not design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying, and socializing from home. We now have a much broader set of users who are utilizing our product in a myriad of unexpected ways, presenting us with challenges we did not anticipate when the platform was conceived.”

But he concludes:

“We recognize that we have fallen short of the community’s – and our own – privacy and security expectations. For that, I am deeply sorry.”

Why is Zoom’s security vulnerable?

Zoom’s open-access format is one of the reasons for its popularity – access is very simple: just open a meeting, send participants the link and they can click to join. However, this format is also Zoom’s downfall, making it particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks and malicious activity, perhaps more so than other video conferencing platforms.

A popular hack named ‘Zoom-bombing’ has emerged, where strangers disrupt calls by joining, shouting abuse and threatening language and sharing inappropriate images. The rise in this issue urged Zoom to remind users to make meetings private and protect them with passwords. Despite Zoom working hard to fix security issues, experts still question the stability of the platform.

Cyber-consultant Graham Cluley comments, "Zoom has had a chequered history, security-wise, with a number of instances where one has had to question whether it really gets it when it comes to users' privacy and security .”

However, some experts question the value for cybercriminals in targeting Zoom.  Speaking to The Independent LINK, founder and CEO of ImmuniWeb LINK, Ilia Kolochonko, commented, “Many controversies now exist around Zoom’s security and privacy, though it is extremely far from dominating the plethora of emerging security risks.”

She continued , “Few attackers will ever bother to intercept Zoom communications, even fewer will extract any value from the alleged data sharing with Facebook.

Steps Zoom has taken to improve security

Zoom has provided additional training, and it’s worth taking advantage of these so you can make optimal use of the platform’s features, including the safety measures. These include:

The engineers have also undertaken a number of modifications to address particular problems, and are committed to improving security further by the end of June.

Adopting safe internet behaviour on Zoom

There will always be some element of risk when using online applications, but by managing your own security settings, you can reduce this. To dodge the dreaded ‘Zoom-bomb’, you should steer clear of sharing your meeting link or ID with anyone who isn’t an attendee – this means no sharing on social media or your website. There are also some other effective best practices to keep your meetings as safe as possible:

  • Use a strong password for your meeting –  There is a password locking option available for making a
    meeting private. Ensure that this is enabled and use a strong password.
  • Enable the waiting room feature –  By sorting your attendees through a waiting room process, you can connect the participants one by one or in groups to ensure you know exactly who is joining.
  • Set the screen share feature to 'host only' -  The host can choose can screen-share on the call. Set this to host-only to ensure only your content is being shown to attendees.
  • Choose who is allowed to screen-record –  Whilst the recording feature is useful, it can cause security issues if you do not wish your content to be shared outside of the call. The host can decide who can record the call through clicking “Allow Record” in the participant management window.

Consider video conferencing alternatives

If Zoom’s reputation means you’d rather not use the platform, there are plenty of alternative video conferencing platforms to use, such as Microsoft Teams. This platform is ideal for internal use including team meetings and collaboration. Read more information on the platform here.

There will, unfortunately, always be security vulnerabilities with any online application. Despite Zoom’s accessible features and ease of use, there are some measures you should to take to ensure your privacy. Keep in mind that there are video meeting alternatives, and there’s no better time to find the right video conferencing platform to suit your needs.

MEET THE EXPERT

Robert Best is marketing manager at Infotech, an independent IT support and service company based in Rochester, Kent.  Infotech has produced a checklist that will help you consider all aspects of the business and how they might be affected. You can download a copy here.

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