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A room of one's own

Using Zoom for video calls? Start using a password.

As you've no doubt seen in the news, Zoom-bombing is apparently a thing now. Zoom-bombing is the childish practice of barging in uninvited to another's virtual meeting spaces to scream, display porn images, or share hateful messages. Not exactly a good look for your remote math classes, bible studies, or board meetings. We recommend the following settings to keep your get-togethers private and peril-free:

If your meeting is private, keep it that way by setting a password and only sharing it with meeting participants. If you share the meeting invite and password over two separate channels, i.e., putting the meeting ID in a calendar invite, and sending the password to a WhatsApp group, all the more secure.

If your meeting is public, and in general, we recommend:

  • You do not use your Personal Meeting ID (PMI) to host public events. Like opening your home to the public, and then going out of town, using your PMI lets people into your personal virtual space continuously. Zoom shows you how to generate a random meeting ID (at the 0:27 mark) in this video tutorial.

  • Use the Waiting Room to admit callers as and when you’re ready for them.

  • Prevent participants from screen sharing during a call. In the host controls, go to Share Screen and then Advanced Sharing Options to disable sharing.

  • Mute participants, either one or all of them during each call, and / or set your default to Mute Upon Entry.

  • Turn off file transfer to keep the chat from getting bombarded with unsolicited pics, GIFs, memes, and other content.

Zoom offers these and other things to do to avoid Zoom-bombing.

Zoom, it seems, has not been entirely up front about its use of our data. Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT) has called for clarity on its data sharing practices, as well as its use of encryption. On March 31, a California user accused the company in a lawsuit of illegally sharing user data with third parties, including Facebook. Separately, New York Attorney General Letitia James is pressing Zoom on its privacy and security policies. We're still using Zoom, and are hoping they become the privacy- and security-minded tech company they've always promised they'd be.


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