Keeping Zoom meetings safe
Updated: May 20, 2020
Are the privacy concerns that grave or users are plain silly to not use Zoom's privacy settings?
It is not exaggeration to say that Zoom is the WhatsApp for video conference. In a span of few days, Zoom has become household name in India. With all businesses shut temporarily due to COVID-19, some sectors are exploring use of technology to disseminate their service. This includes mainly education - schools, colleges and private tutors. Organisations and Government are using video conference for team briefing. Professionals are using it to spread knowledge. Family members are even celebrating birthdays and weddings over video call and friends catching up with one other or playing online games using a video conference.
Zoom has added new 2.2 MN monthly users in 2020. In entire 2019, it had new user base of 1.19 MN.
Few video conference already did exist before. In fact Zoom has been in business since April 2011 but it's popularity has soared past Google's Hangout (now merged with Meet). However, few companies have refrained their employees to use Zoom due to privacy issues. While some of the issues regarding end to end encryption may be valid one, but to most of the users this should not be concerning.
Let's look at ways one can safely use Zoom.
1. Password protected meeting
Scheduling a zoom meeting needs either a PMID (personal meeting ID) or an automatic meeting ID. PMID is a permanent for a user. Which means, once you have shared your PMID, anyone can crash into your ongoing session (unless you've enabled waiting room). Keep your meetings secured by enabling "Generate Automatically" meeting ID. For more security, enable "Require meeting password" which changes every time you schedule a meeting. This password is randomly generated by the service provider.
Setting up of a secured meeting is pretty much the same on desktop and as well as on mobile app.
2. Enable waiting room
Waiting room is another great feature of Zoom meetings. Consider waiting room like a reception area of a company. You and your team have come to meet CEO of the company. But some of your team members are running late and you don't want to start the meeting without them. So you wait at the reception area till all your team members arrive and then you all enter the meeting room to have a discussion with CEO.
Similarly, waiting room feature of Zoom works on the same principle. Host can keep participants in waiting room till all of them have joined or keep a buffer of 2-3 mins and then start the meeting. Host can admit all of the participants to join the meeting at once. Here again, if there are few participants whom host does not recognise or isn't expecting to be part of the meeting, host can keep them in waiting room. If at all host has admitted them into meeting, those participants can be again put into waiting room by the host.
How to enable waiting room? Once you start the meeting from mobile app, click on 3 dots on extreme right which reads "more" and then click "meeting settings." This is where you can enable waiting room, lock meeting, share screen, renaming themselves and other useful features.
3. Join before host
Think of this feature again as you and your team meeting with company CEO. Now, CEO doesn't want all of you to take seats before he has come. Perhaps he has written something on whiteboard and is a critical point of discussion during meeting. So CEO informs receptionist not to allow anyone inside before he enters meeting room.
This feature works exactly in the same way. In your mobile app, click on Schedule Meeting -> Advanced Options -> Allow Join Before Host. Disable this option if you don't want anyone to join before you join. They all will be kept in waiting room.
4. Lock meeting
When you have more than 10 people joining the meeting, it becomes quite annoying with someone or the other joining every minute. The person who joined late might have missed important point and chances are he will raise that point again. This gets quite irritating when late comers often ask FAQs which were addressed before.
Think of lock meeting as a metro train. Door opens and passengers get in. And at designated time, door closes and train leaves for its destination. In this case, even if you reached the station with valid train ticket, you can't get inside because everyone's time is important. For every passenger with a valid train ticket, if door kept on opening, chances are that train will not move ahead from this station pretty much like your Zoom meeting which can't proceed if people with meeting invitation kept on coming at their own time.
To do away with this distraction, Lock Meeting feature locks the meeting like train door are closed. When meeting is locked, even people with meeting invitation can no longer attend this meeting.
5. Turn off screen sharing
Save yourself from embarrassment by turning off screen sharing option of participant. There have been instances of participants sharing inappropriate visuals and causing a major disturbing experience for everyone.
6. Disable renaming guest
It was recently shared that a student renamed himself as "connecting" and did not attend his school class citing internet connectivity issue. Student definitely did find an innovative way to rename himself and take advantage of the feature which was not disabled by teacher.
When you disable renaming guest, participants can't impersonate or trick the host.
7. Removing participant
Another important feature Zoom allows is to remove participant from the meeting. This important feature makes life easy to deal with trouble makers. This can also be used to discuss important points between few people and does not need presence of few selected people.
Think of this as an interview of sales executive with HR manager, CMO and sales head. When candidate finishes his QnA with all of them, he can be removed temporarily from the meeting so that HR manager, CMO and sales head can exchange their views on this candidate. They can again admit the candidate in meeting to share their closing remarks.
Zoom definitely has put in lot of control to host. With these kind of safety and security features put into use, privacy of users is ensured. Take charge of your Zoom meeting like a pro with the above tips.