Concerns with Zoom – CTN’s take

April 10, 2020

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We at CTN are using Zoom’s technology to communicate more than ever.  Even some boards I serve on have switched to Zoom. Have you participated in any Zoom webinars or meetings over the last few weeks?


Zoom has also been in the news quite a bit regarding the security of its platform.  Indeed no piece of hardware or software is 100% secure. We do know that Zoom has recently updated their software with more security enhancements. While there have been reports of “Zoom bombing” of meetings, what is still unclear is how those situations occurred:
Was it because of weaknesses in the Zoom platform OR was it because a home computer or network was compromised already which allowed a bad actor to take over a person’s Zoom credentials?

Here are some tips from CTN on securing the next Zoom meeting you host or attend:

 1)  Make sure meetings are password protected.
 The best way to ensure meetings can be accessed only when someone has the password is to ensure that a required password for instant meetings is turned on in the user settings. 
Even when the setting is turned off, there’s the ability to require a password when scheduling a meeting. It may not be practical to password protect every meeting, but conference organizers should use this measure as often as possible.  

Note:  Zoom has recently enabled this feature by default. 

 2)  Other than webinars which are closed meetings by nature, don’t announce meetings on social media.
 When possible, don’t announce meetings on social media or other public outlets. Instead, send messages only to the participants, using email or group settings in Signal, WhatsApp, or other messenger programs. 
This advice is especially important if you’re the leader of a country, such as the UK. (Fortunately, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had password-protected the meeting and was prudent enough not to have included the passphrase in his tweet. Even then, his tweet divulged the IDs of multiple participants.)

 3)  Inspect meeting participants.
 Carefully inspect the list of participants periodically, whenever possible. This can be done by the organizer or trusted participants. Any users who are unauthorized can be booted.

 4)  Be careful with screen sharing.
 Carefully control screen sharing. The user settings allow organizers to set sharing settings by default. People who rarely need sharing should turn it off altogether by sliding the button to the right to off. In the event participants require screen sharing, the slider should be turned on and the setting for only the host to share should be turned on. Organizers should allow all participants to share screens only when the host knows and fully trusts everyone in a meeting.

 5)  Disable “join before host”.
 Disable the Join Before Host setting so that organizers can control the meeting from its very start.

 6)  Use the waiting room feature.
 Use the Waiting Room option to admit participants. This will prevent admittance of trolls should they have slipped through the two cardinal defenses.

 7)  Once you start, lock the meeting.
 Lock a meeting, when possible, once it’s underway. This will prevent unauthorized people from joining later. Locking a meeting can be accomplished by clicking Manage Participants and using the controls that appear on the right of the meeting window. Manage Participants also allows an organizer to mute all participants, eject select participants, or stop select participants from appearing by video.

 8)  Check your camera
 Be aware of everything that’s within view of your camera. Whether working from home or an office, there may be diagrams, drawings, notes, or other things you don’t want other participants to see. Remove these from view of the camera before the meeting starts.

 9)  Be careful with chats
 The Zoom chat feature is not private even if you send a private message to a participant.  Depending on the settings, the host can see all chats both public and private. Our advice is to avoid using chat for any private messages. 

 10)  Have some fun!
 In these days of social distance, you can use your Zoom background as an icebreaker or conversation starter in any meeting.  Go to your Zoom settings -> virtual backup settings and upload your own background. Maybe it is a place you traveled too, a great picture you took, or a hobby you have – all make great icebreakers and “virtual” water cooler conversations.

Need help with Zoom?  Give me a call or drop a comment – CTN is here to help!


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