Video conferencing app Zoom has seen a massive surge in users as many people continue to stay at home during the COVID-19 crisis. But many new Zoom users are just normal people using the platform to talk to friends or take an exercise class—I’m one of them.
This sudden surge in Zoom users beyond the app’s traditional business base has led to major security issues such as “Zoom bombing,” which sees uninvited guests join your meeting or chat. From May 9, Zoom hopes to eliminate this and other security problems with a bunch of new features for basic and free accounts.
Here are the three features arriving tomorrow that you need to know about:
Passwords now required for all meetings
If you don’t have a meeting password, you’re not safe. It means that if someone knows your Meeting ID or has a link to your chat, they can simply join it—also known as Zoom bombing. Many people also share their Zoom Meeting IDs on social media, which is a definite no-no as it leaves your meetings wide open for anyone to crash.
So from May 9, Zoom wants to make the chance of this happening even smaller by requiring a password for all meetings. This includes new meetings, previously scheduled meetings and those using a personal meeting ID.
Waiting Rooms turned on by default
Another Zoom problem that can allow video chat gatecrashers is the ability to simply enter the meeting without being let in by the host. Zoom has a feature called Waiting Rooms to allow the host to manually let people into the meeting, but not everyone was using it. In another move to stop Zoom bombers, Zoom will now make Waiting Rooms turned on by default. It means it will take slightly longer to enter your meeting, but it’s certainly worth it for the security and privacy benefits.
Screen sharing by the host only turned on by default
One of the major problems caused by Zoom bombers is the sharing of offensive images, sometimes containing pornography. To try and prevent this from happening, Zoom will make screen sharing privileges host only by default from May 9.
How to secure Zoom
Whether you love it, hate it, use it or don’t, everyone has an opinion about Zoom. These new security features are great, but really, they should have been turned on by default from the start.
However, I don’t see Zoom’s issues as a reason to not use the service at all. In addition to these new security features, there are other things you can do to keep yourself as safe as possible while using the app. Firstly, don’t use Zoom for any sensitive chats and seek out an alternative instead.
At the same time, be aware that when you are using Zoom, you need to control your privacy—services are free for a reason and there might be some data to have to give up.
When you do use Zoom, you can ensure you are safer by not downloading the app where possible. In addition, Zoom’s surge in users means it’s a target for phishing attacks. Be careful of any emails that claim they come from Zoom, they are often designed to steal your credentials.
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