As with all new technologies, there are several hiccups and teething issues. So, it is with Zoom meetings. However, where most technologies enjoy a relatively slow uptake period, allowing people to adjust gradually, for virtual meetings, the change has been rapid. At the start of the year, Zoom was growing but remained a fairly insignificant part of the communication landscape. Then the pandemic hit. With movement restricted by lockdowns, virtual communication becomes the only way to keep businesses alive. As with Google before it, Zooming has become the verb for virtual communication.
However, there remains one question, one teething issue still present: is it safe?
The phenomenon of Zoom bombing, whereby an unwanted guest, unexpectedly drops into a meeting (often playing loud music or displaying inappropriate images) has caused significant concern. Yet, there are several practices which can reduce the risks associated with the app.
Here are some to consider:
- Set the meeting to private (And use a password)
Part of the problem of Zoom bombing was that the details of the meetings were freely available. All potential disruptors needed to do was find the details of the meeting, and they had full access. In real life, we’d never be so flippant. But with a fledgling technology, people were caught unaware.
Instead, set the meeting to private. By doing so, you will generate a personal meeting ID and a specific password for the meeting. These are the keys to the meeting. As such, distribute carefully. Anyone who possesses this information will have access to the meeting. Consider how you will send the information. You can include both the ID and password in the email invite. Or you can send it to the participants via a secure line, such as WhatsApp or Microsoft Teams.
In Zoom, when scheduling a meeting, you will be presented with various options. Look for ‘Meeting ID’ and then click ‘Generate Automatically’ (this can be found under ‘My Account’>’Schedule a meeting’. You can also select ‘Require a password’, to ensure people are checked upon entry.
- Use a waiting room
Picture an office: when you walk in, do you immediately arrive in the meeting room? Do you enter straight into the workspace? Or is there a foyer or waiting room?
Naturally, we create reception areas to ensure people who gain access are supposed to be there. Once again, a problem of Zoom bombing was people were able to jump straight into the action. However, by using a waiting room, hosts can filter who they want to join. If an unexpected party attempts to come in, hosts can evaluate whether they should be there. You can even send them a message if you are suspicious.
It can be a little time-consuming if you have large numbers of people attending. However, as the adage goes, ‘better safe than sorry’. Company information and secrets are supposed to be kept confidential. Don’t let anyone listen in.
- Lock the meeting
Once the meeting has kicked off, it can be sensible to do a roll-call. Using the distribution list for invites, work your way down the attendees. Tick off everyone who is supposed to be there. Then, lock the meeting.
In real-life, it could be quite disconcerting to find yourself locked in a meeting room. You may look quizzically at the host. Yet, in the virtual world, locking a Zoom meeting prevents any uninvited guests from bothering the meeting. It prevents unwanted disruptions.
- Remember: virtual backgrounds
Disruptive outsiders aren’t the only invasion of privacy. Sure, no one wants company information to be disclosed. But, nor do they want their colleagues or clients peering into their private homes. Discretion is always advisable. It may be that you’ve left the place a bit in a mess, or kids are playing in the backdrop. Either way, you want to maintain some privacy. (People have also gotten into trouble for controversial books upon their shelves.)
As such, virtual backgrounds are becoming increasingly popular. Using the latest green screen technology, zoom office backgrounds replace your backdrop with a digital image or video of your choosing. Pick from modern offices or boardrooms, or opt for a more natural scene. Doing so allows you to display a professional image while keeping your personal and work lives distinctly separate.
Don’t be put off the new world of Zoom virtual meetings. Many are appreciating the freedom of communication and cost-cutting benefits. However, follow the above steps and take sensible precautions to maintain your privacy and safety—both in your company’s interest and your own.