Zoom security: Keep uninvited guests out of your meetings

by Randy Hollowell and Elizabeth Jenike, IT Services

It has become apparent over the last seven months that video conferencing tools like Zoom and Webex have become as much a part of our daily lives as sleeping and eating. We have also discovered that they require some safety measures, similar to locking your doors when you leave your house.

Many of the same security recommendations apply to Zoom as you are used to for other online applications. In order to keep uninvited guests from disrupting class gatherings and meetings, here are some tips to keep in mind for Zooming safely and responsibly:

a person sitting on the floor with a laptop and a cup of coffee

Set a passcode

This is the easiest security tip -- because IT Services has already made passcodes mandatory on all Zoom meetings starting 8/31/2020. This means that classes and meetings will default to requiring passcodes from now on.

Read the Remote Tools Updates Blog post explaining mandatory passcodes.

Note: Students connecting from a Canvas link should not have to enter the passcode.

Familiarize yourself with hosting capabilities

As the host of a Zoom meeting, you have a range of abilities available to you. Some of these features double as security settings as well. Make sure you are well versed in these settings before hosting a meeting. You can:

  • Turn on waiting rooms - This allows the host to see who is trying to get in their meeting before the participant actually joins. This is a useful feature -- according to Zoom, “almost like the velvet rope outside a nightclub, with you as the bouncer carefully monitoring who gets let in.” At this point, it’s your call. As a host, you will get a notification that Jane Doe is waiting to be let in the room. For smaller groups with easily manageable participant counts, this may be a good way to quickly eyeball your class roster and make sure the names match up.
  • Disable private chat - This prevents anyone from getting unwanted messages during the meeting.
  • Mute participants / disable video - These features allow the host to control the sharing capabilities of the meeting participants. If a participant is being disruptive either visually or audibly, you have full control. You can also make it impossible for participants to unmute themselves, so if you mute someone you can guarantee they will stay muted.
  • Remove participants - If muting or disabling video isn’t enough, you also have the power to completely remove a person from the Zoom meeting. In the Participants menu, mouse over a participant’s name to reveal the option to remove them. Read more about managing participants in meetings at the Zoom support site.

Be aware of screen sharing settings

This is a good practice to follow no matter what your chosen conferencing platform may be. You don’t want to relinquish control of the meeting to anyone, let alone outside actors, without your express permission. To prevent participants from screen sharing during a call, navigate to the arrow next to Share Screen and then Advanced Sharing Options. Under “Who can share?” select the “Only Host” option.

To set this as the default option, do so in your web settings.

Read more about Zoom security and keeping uninvited guests out of your meetings at the Zoom support site.

And, as always, happy Zooming!

More like this: Remote Tools Updates

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