Zoom! Everybody is doing it! You do it from home. You do it from the office. You could even do it on your phone in your car. Classes are Zoomed. Talking with friends or the grandkids is Zoomed. Important meetings across the nation are Zoomed! Even funerals and weddings are Zoomed.
For those of you who aren’t sure what I’m talking about, because of COVID-19 restrictions, Zoom is the hottest video conferencing app in use today. Zoom’s popularity is due to the fact that, for most meetings, it is free and full featured. Its basic plan has a 40-minute time limit on meetings with three or more participants, and it is easy to start, join and collaborate across any desktop or mobile device. There are lots of other pluses the app offers that makes video communication attractive.
As we Americans turn to options to remain in contact with each other, we are now streaming on various videoconferencing platforms, with Zoom leading the way. With that trend, a new form of digital harassment called “Zoom Bombing” has emerged. Hackers and other miscreants have weaseled their way into meetings to perform their various attacks or disruptive deeds.
One such vicious attack was highlighted in an article on the website The Verge. It occurred during a streamed funeral using Zoom. An individual was talking, the screen went white with black letters that formed wording which was very inappropriate.
If such damage can be done to something as innocuous as a funeral, imagine what harm could be inflicted during other personal and business interactions.
The video conferencing platform has moved quickly to fix security issues that made such attacks possible. This past April 5, Zoom introduced waiting rooms and passwords as the new default settings for all users. Now all Zoom meetings will have a nine-digit meeting ID.
Here are some other things that can help keep your Zoom meeting secure:
• Be careful with your nine-digit meeting ID. If it somehow becomes public, hackers could sneak into your meeting and disrupt them.
• It isn’t necessary to use Zoom’s software. Because of encryption issues, it may be more secure to join a Zoom meeting using your web browser and going directly to their site than using Zoom’s desktop apps for Windows, Mac or Linux.
• Require meeting participants sign in with a password. That option can be found on the “Options” pane when you create a meeting.
• Under Zoom’s “Advanced Options,” select “Enable Waiting Room” so you can give specific approval of who joins the conversation.
· You can restrict what other users can and cannot do by going to Zoom “Settings,” click “In Meeting,” then select the “Screen Sharing” option where you can halt anyone you choose from sharing the desktops or apps on their computers. By using that same option once you’ve launched, you can click the small arrow next to “Share Screen,” then “Advanced Sharing Options,” to ensure only you can bring up videos and images or anything else from your computer or phone.
There are alternatives to Zoom. For example, FaceTime supports up to 32 people if all are on Apple devices. Google Duo allows video chats of eight to 12. GoToMeeting has been around for a long time, as has Skype.
Zoom is an easy to use way to stay in touch with loved ones, friends, and business associates. Using these tips above can help ensure it’s a more enjoyable experience.
Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.