It seems like everybody’s “Zooming,” or using some kind of videoconferencing to stay connected. We’re using Zoom or other platforms for casual get-togethers with family and friends, classes, networking events, and virtual happy hours too.
Videoconferencing isn’t a new technology, but Zoom is taking a lot of heat for privacy and security shortcomings. And internet security pros say the platform isn’t completely to blame. Its ease of use and rapid acceptance by practically everyone have exposed issues more quickly than they might possibly be addressed under normal volume and circumstances. Exponentially larger audiences have also created a higher level of scrutiny.
Updated security features mean nothing if we don’t put them to work. As consumers and users, we can take a more active role in protecting ourselves. We talked to Tom Blanchard from Sterling Technology Solutions for some tips:
- Don’t type in confidential info of ANY kind. Whether that’s the meeting topic, or chat information, or other identifying data. Here’s why: When hackers are looking at Zoom data, Blanchard says it’s text info they’re looking for. They’re not looking at video. DON”T enter confidential info. EVER. Keep that out of meeting info.
- Add password protection, or don’t bypass the password option when setting up the meeting. As an added layer of security, send that separately from the meeting ID or login.
- If you have a public meeting NEVER EVER share your screen, reminds Blanchard. Along with having tabs open that may reveal personal or embarrassing information, they may also expose more sensitive details like logins, passwords, or account numbers.
- Only allow people to join your meeting if they sign in to the meeting with the email address that YOU invited. That will create a second layer between the hackers and the meeting.
Working with kids requires extra care, particularly since most school-age kids are taking classes online and many teachers or coaches may not have had experience in the teleconferencing space. Dr. Sharon Jones from the dot. consulting and The Dottie Rose Foundation adds the following recommended precautions.
- As the meeting host, take advantage of the “waiting room” feature. This will allow you to approve any participants before they enter into the videoconference.
- Follow the same guidelines you would in a real classroom. In her Zoom classes, she has at least one other grown-up on the class for security.
- Jones also records all the classes to serve as a record of what goes on during those classes, should there ever be a question.
Technology like Zoom calls will likely become more widely accepted going forward. The more users, the more data, and the more attractive the platforms become for hackers. Another great idea is to get familiar with the platforms and their features during more casual calls first.