With so many people working and socializing from home, more than just businesses – employees, families and friends – are trying to find a place to gather (hold virtual meetings, religious services, game nights, birthday parties and happy hours). Zoom has become “that meeting place” for most. According to the Chief Executive of Zoom, in December the video platform had approximately 10 million users, to currently over 200 million users.
While Zoom has become popular rather quickly, some of its security vulnerabilities have taken the spotlight too. Some of the recent Zoom privacy issues have included user data being sent to Facebook and a flaw leaving Mac users vulnerable to their microphones and webcams being accessed. Another Zoom privacy issue has included a lack of password protection. That has led to some meetings being “Zoom-bombed,” like an AA meeting where trolls harassed those participating in the recovery process.
Zoom executives have come out and said they are working to address the Zoom security problems, including enabling passwords by default in all future meetings, clarifying its encryption practices, releasing fixes for Mac-related issues and more.
In the meantime, there are few things users can do to make sure their Zoom meetings are secure.
Zoom now offers its users multiple ways to protect their meetings. Users can secure a meeting with end-to-end encryption, create waiting rooms for attendees, require a host to be present before the meeting begins, lock a meeting and more. These features can be found in the host settings. These Zoom privacy measures can also help reduce the risk of someone getting into a meeting that does not belong and “Zoom-bombing” the meeting.
According to Zoom’s website, recordings can be stored locally on the host’s device with the local recording option or on the Zoom Cloud with the Cloud Recording option that is available for customers who are paying for Zoom’s services. The meeting host can manage their recording through a secured interface and the recording can either be shared, downloaded or deleted. Zoom phone voicemail recordings are also processed and stored in the Zoom Cloud and can be managed through Zoom Client. Meeting hosts can manage the Zoom data settings in the settings tab.
Zoom currently stores user email addresses, passwords, names, company names, phone numbers and profile pictures. Company names, phone numbers and adding a profile picture are optional for users. If a user is concerned about their Zoom security, they can elect to only provide their name, email address and password. Users will not be asked to provide any personally identifiable information and should report any message asking them to do so directly to Zoom because it could be a scam.
While Zoom has taken responsibility for its security issues, it is important users do their part. Oversharing their meeting information on social media can lead to some scary consequences, making it easier for others to join what was intended to be a private Zoom meeting. It could also lead to information in someone’s profile settings being stolen. To prevent oversharing, users should not post meeting information on any of their social media platforms. Instead, send the invitation directly to the person they would like to invite. Also, consider revisiting what level social media privacy and security settings are set – otherwise, users may be sharing more information than they intended with people they shouldn’t.
The current times are unprecedented and people are doing what they can to stay connected. Zoom and other video conferencing platforms will continue to play a large role during these times – and beyond. However, being aware of some of the Zoom privacy pitfalls, and can be done to keep themselves and their information safe while they are on their next virtual meeting, game night or happy hour should be the first priority.
If people have questions regarding their privacy settings, they are encouraged to contact the Identity Theft Resource Center through the website to live chat with an expert advisor toll-free.
For those that cannot access the website, call the toll-free hotline (888.400.5530) and leave a message for an advisor. While the advisors are working remotely, there may be a delay in responding but someone will assist you as quickly as possible.
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