Security for Online Meetings

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Tips and tricks for online meeting success

Zoom has been in the news for its capability to allow businesses, organizations, and families connect online, but also for the myriad of security issues plaguing the company. An increase of daily users (200 million daily meetings) and software that may not have been ready to handle the volume could be to blame. Zoom can still be a viable option if users employ proper security settings before and during their meetings. But, there are also alternative meeting applications available to keep everyone connected.

New Zoom features are being added all the time. The latest features will be pushed in a “forced upgrade” June 1, 2020. As a host, it is important to check periodically that you’re running the latest version of Zoom to take advantage of the latest safety features. Tutorials and more are available on the Zoom support site.

Protect your meeting

Create a new user ID and password for each meeting. Doing so helps to prevent uninvited guests receiving the information to join meetings.

Do not publicly publish Meeting IDs. Send invitations to those you wish to attend. This is easy in a business setting, but if you’re a local government organization who is inviting the public to attend, there are alternatives to having your residents join the Zoom meeting.

Add a meeting password. This way, only invitees with the password can enter your meeting room. Password requirements are the default setting in the Zoom app as of late in 2019. Don’t make the password public. That defeats the purpose of a password. Passwords are required to be a minimum of 6 characters long.

Meeting Safety Bonus – Security for Online Meetings

“If you need to publicize your event online, consider posting only the meeting ID, and then separately sending the password to vetted participants shortly before the meeting begins.”

Inspect your meeting URL. Sometimes when copying the URL to the meeting, you may inadvertently be sending the password with it. Make sure the URL does not include the password (look for a ? in the URL) before sending.

Keep control of your meeting. If possible, especially for a public meeting, lock down screen share setting so only the host has control of the meeting screen. You can also restrict or disable file sharing and disable the recording features.

You can now “report a user” to zoom! You can do this “via the new Security Icon in the lower toolbar,” Zoom shares.  These reports go directly to the Zoom Trust & Safety Team, who reviews the conduct reported and investigates the appropriate actions or next steps to take.

Use a waiting room. A waiting room allows the host to screen participants before they are allowed to join the meeting. When everyone has arrived, you can (and probably should) lock the meeting.

Disable “Allow removed participants to re-join”. This feature may be necessary if meeting attendees are disrupting your meeting or if you find an uninvited guest has joined. It would be a continued disruption if these attendees kept rejoining your meeting after being removed.

End the meeting when finished. As an administrator, you can either leave or end the meeting. If your meeting is finished, you should end the meeting.

Protect Yourself

Make sure that you’re using the most up-to-date version of the software even as an attendee.

Be aware of your surroundings when hosting or participating in a virtual meeting. If you don’t want to be seen, consider covering your devices camera. If you need to be visible during a meeting, consider your surroundings. Don’t have anything sensitive or distracting in the background.

If you don’t want to be heard (or maybe your don’t want other attendees to hear the chaos that is working from home), learn how to use the mute / unmute function of your meeting software.

Zoom alternatives

There are alternatives to the Zoom app. All of these, much like Zoom, have their own security issues and risks involved. It is important to research your options before choosing an app. These apps are not one-size-fits-all.

Here are just a few options that could work in place of Zoom. This is by no means a complete list.

Streamyard – StreamYard is a live streaming studio in your browser. Interview guests, share your screen, and much more. Stream directly to Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other platforms.

Jitsi – Go ahead, video chat with the whole team. In fact, invite everyone you know. Jitsi Meet is a fully encrypted, 100% open source video conferencing solution that you can use all day, every day, for free — with no account needed.

Slack – Slack itself is not a meeting platform. But it does interface with many other meeting apps! If you already use Slack for instant messaging, it might be worth looking into the long list of apps with which Slack can interface.

Microsoft Teams – Now more than ever, people need to know their virtual conversations are private and secure. At Microsoft, privacy and security are never an afterthought. It’s our commitment to you—not only during this challenging time, but always. Here’s how we’re working to earn your trust every day with Microsoft Teams.

Workplace from Facebook – Holding meetings can be challenging, especially when you have staff in different locations around the country or around the world. Workplace makes it easy to connect, hold discussions, and have real human interactions with anyone in your organization, anywhere, and at any time. This guide walks you through using Workplace to plan, host, document, and broadcast your meetings.

While there may be no way around virtual meetings right now, it is important to weigh the security risks and privacy necessary for each call or meeting before making it. CourseVector does not in any way endorse any of these solutions.

CourseVector does have a solution for integrating certain online meetings into your WordPress website.  Please contact us for additional info.