Understanding the basic privacy and security settings for Zoom is important. This lesson is an overview of why this is important and shows how to make sure that your Zoom account and meetings are locked down.
Privacy and security are two important topics to understand when using software. It’s especially important to understand the default settings that tools provide when you first start using them. When Zoom’s popularity first skyrocketed during social distancing, they received a lot of criticism for not providing a more secure platform. Zoom responded to these concerns and added more security features and also made sure that these settings were enabled by default.
This lesson shows how to check your privacy and security settings, explains why you should be careful, and also provides links to resources about Zoom privacy and security.
Zoom is a video conferencing tool. As more of our lives move into a digital world, Zoom is being used to do everything from online teaching to board games with friends. This is possible because Zoom connects folks remotely by using your computer camera and microphone and sharing that audio with folks attending the meeting with you. Opening up your camera and microphone is almost like having people sitting next to you at your computer.
Since you’re sharing parts of your personal space, you want to ensure that you’re only sharing and displaying what you intend to.
The first step to checking your privacy and security settings is knowing where they are. You can change some of the settings within the app, but for many of the privacy and security are changed in the browser.
Open the Zoom app and click the gear button in the top right corner:
The Zoom settings window has several tabs on the left sidebar. Feel free to explore these as you have time.
The privacy and security settings are found by clicking the View More Settings button in the General tab:
This opens up the Zoom page in your web browser. Depending on when you last logged in, you may need to enter your username and password. If you’re asked, enter your username and password. You’ll arrive at this page.
The first settings to check relate to video. You can decide if you want to start all meetings with your video on or not. You can also select if you want to start meetings with participant video on. For privacy reasons, it’s a good idea to uncheck both of these so that you have a chance to monitor any video before seeing it.
The next group of settings relate to what participants can do in meetings. Having all of these options turned off is the most private and secure option. If you allow participants to rename themselves, you open up to having participants give themselves inappropriate names.
The next group of settings relates to passwords. These settings should be enabled to harder your security. Requiring passwords makes sure that your meetings include only people you intend. If you don’t require a password and your link gets shared, participants can join and troll/disrupt your meeting.
These settings are for screen sharing. If you enable screen sharing, you definitely want to be sure that you trust the meeting participants. This is another area where bad actors can share inappropriate content.
The last setting is for creating a waiting room. If you enable this, you need to approve anyone who joins the meeting before they’re added. This is an extra step, but makes sure that you have complete control over who attends.
The settings in the previous section create extra work for you as a host. However, this work creates a more secure and private experience for you and your participants. As with other software, you’ll want to decide what the right balance is. If you know that you’re sharing the meeting only with folks you trust, you can relax some of these settings.
However, if you are doing any sort of public meeting, or a meeting that has potential to be shared publicly, definitely consider enabling all of the security settings outlined in this lesson.
Since Zoom’s surge in popularity in Spring 2020 there have been many folks taking advantage of insecure Zoom meetings. Zoom has done a good job responding to this and has made their default settings more secure. This is a good time to practice awareness and mindfulness with your security choices. Knowing how much you want to secure the tools you use is a useful skill to learn as more experiences are moving online.
There are lots of resources being created about Zoom privacy and security. This section will be periodically updated with links.
Mozilla Foundation: Tips to Make Your Zoom Gatherings More Private
Virtual Workshops on Digital Privacy and Security for Video Conferencing