How to safely organize a Zoom meeting

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An unexpected symptom of the coronavirus was the entry of extraterrestrial words and sentences into our vocabulary.

Just a few weeks ago, saying “I’m zooming in on my friends”, “zoom bombing” or “hacking at home” out loud would have raised an eyebrow or two.

But now that more of us are connecting for both business and pleasure on video conferencing services, Zoom has become an integral part of our lives.

However, using the streaming service poses several risks.

Zoom apologized after numerous security bugs, some that allowed hackers to intercept calls, others that shared bad links that could steal login information. It has suspended all new functionality and instructed its engineers to ensure that it is as secure as possible as demand increases.

Perhaps more worrisome is the aforementioned bombing phenomenon, in which people join unannounced meetings, often shouting profanities or exploding pornographic images.

The FBI is investigating after a number of reports that the Zoom meetings of students with their teachers were intercepted by pranksters. Several schools prohibit technology due to privacy concerns and the ease with which students can share the link to access their courses in the hope that outsiders may disrupt teaching.

There are things you can do in advance to make sure that you – and the people you talk to with Zoom – are protected from hackers or strangers who drop calls.

How Zoom Solves Its Problems

Zoom has two main ways to prevent anyone from participating in meetings, which are now enabled by default after a number of security concerns.

All Zoom calls are password protected by default, which means that even if a stranger comes across a meeting ID – the unique 10-digit address for each call – they still won’t be able to enter automatically. A hacker would need to know both a meeting ID and password to enter.

Zoom also allows hosts – the caller – to share their meetings with a web address or URL, which you can do by simply clicking on them. This makes it easy to quickly invite people to meetings, but means that meetings can be entered without a password.

It is generally easier to share a link with those with whom you want to zoom, but do not distribute it widely, for example by posting on social networks.

The second security measure is a function known as the “waiting room”, a staging area where people have to wait when they join the call. They must be admitted by the host, which means that if a stranger invades the call, they would not enter the waiting room without the host’s permission. This is now enabled by default.

Zoom also recently said that meeting IDs would no longer be displayed in the title toolbar.

The company said it was intended to prevent others from seeing active meeting IDs when “Zoom screenshots are published publicly” and from using the information to block meetings.

New security menu now allows security settings to be updated on first live call, rather than having meeting hosts set security settings before a call – what critics have said resulted in gaps in meeting security and confidentiality.

How to set up a secure Zoom meeting on your phone or tablet

  1. Press “new meeting” with the camera icon.
  2. For most people, the Personal Meeting ID (PMI) should be disabled. A PMI is your unique account number: this means that if you have regular meetings with the same group, you are easier to find, but if you have a lot of meetings with different people, they may come in at the wrong time. Disabling it generates a random ID that is only used for this meeting.
  3. Once you have pressed “Start a meeting”, you will be in communication. Then select “Call via Internet Audio”. Make sure that neither “Mute” nor “Stop video” is selected if you want people to see and hear you.
  4. Tap “More” and then “Meeting Settings” to verify your security measures. Make sure the “Put participant in waiting area at entrance” option is enabled so that you can filter who enters. Press “Done”.
  5. To invite people, press “Participants” and “Invite”. You can choose to send emails, text messages or contacts. You can also choose “Copy link” if you want to send an application such as WhatsApp.
  6. When your guests click on the link, they arrive in the waiting room. Press “Participants” again to move them to the call. You can also activate the “Reading chime for entry / exit” in the settings to know when someone arrives at the meeting.
  7. When everyone is on the phone, you can select “Lock meeting” to no longer allow participants

How to set up a secure Zoom meeting on your computer

  1. Log in to your Zoom account, at zoom.us, or through the desktop app if you downloaded it.
  2. Click “Host a meeting” on the web or “New meeting” on the desktop application.
  3. Select “Call via Internet Audio”. Once in the call, make sure that neither “Mute” nor “Stop video” is selected if you want people to see and hear you.
  4. Press “Security” to verify your security measures. Make sure that “Activate the waiting room” is activated to be able to filter who enters.
  5. To invite people, press “Manage participants” and “Invite”. You can choose to send an email or to a Zoom contact. You can also choose “Copy URL” if you want to share the meeting in another way by pasting it into another application. send an application such as WhatsApp.
  6. When your guests click on the link, they arrive in the waiting room. Press “Manage participants” again to move them to the call. You can also activate the “Reading chime for entry / exit” in the settings to know when someone arrives at the meeting.
  7. When everyone is on the phone, you can select “Lock meeting” to no longer allow participants

Planning a Zoom Meeting

  1. If you want to schedule a meeting in advance, you can schedule one, allowing you to choose your security settings in advance.
  2. On smartphone, desktop or tablet, click “Schedule” instead of starting a meeting. This generates a settings menu, which can be changed. The default security settings will be enabled, so the main thing to do is choose a time.
  3. Once you select “Schedule” or “Done”, you will see a box with a large piece of text, or a calendar event on mobile. This can then be copied and shared as above.
  4. When you want to start the meeting, go to “Meetings” in your application and select start.

How worried should you be? While governments and businesses engaged in classified or confidential activities should think twice before using Zoom, this has proven to be a useful tool for everyday communication and normal business operations.

“There is always a risk associated with using closed source software,” said Ted Kim, managing director of Private Internet Access.

The closed source means that only the company knows how the software works or if there are hidden backdoors that could allow third parties to intercept calls or recordings made on the application.

Kim adds, “Companies and other organizations need to assess whether this risk is worth using Zoom.

“For those who decide convenience is worth the risk, following safety tips will minimize the risk of unwanted call interruptions. “

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