What you can do to protect yourself when using Zoom
Zoom is facing mounting criticism — possible federal investigations and state attorneys' probes — because of:
Last year, Apple even pushed out a silent security patch to remove Zoom's hidden web server that could activate the camera without a user's permission.
- Don't use Zoom for conversations where privacy is important to you
- Take special precautions with public / open virtual meetings
- Avoid Zoom if possible — here's why
- Don’t use the desktop/laptop app — instead, use it on your phone or tablet
- If you must, use the web version on your computer (see instructions below)
Consider these alternatives to Zoom:
Best practices when you have to use Zoom:
“Please join us for your child's class session on Zoom…”
“Here's a Zoom link for Monday's meeting…”
Since Zoom is now ubiquitous, sometimes you may have little choice but to use it for an important meeting. Here's what you should do to minimize the privacy and security risks:
- Don’t use the Zoom app on your desktop or laptop; uninstalling is recommended (see below for how to uninstall it).
- Use the Zoom app on your phone or tablet instead; your phone's software (particularly Apple's) limits what third party apps can do.
If you must use Zoom on your computer:
- Use the web version of Zoom. Some features are limited (no grid of all participants), but overall it works fine. Open an Incognito browser window in Google Chrome (other browsers may vary in compatibility)
- Paste your meeting link into the new window
- Look for the message: If nothing prompts from browser, click here to launch the meeting, or download & run Zoom
- Choose the click here link
- Look for the message: If you cannot download or run the application, join from your browser
- Choose the join from your browser link
- Sign into Zoom with your account if necessary
- The meeting password should be populated but if not, refer to your email or ask your meeting host for them. Enter your name as you would like it to appear in the meeting.
- At the end of your meeting, close the window
Suggested settings to consider — especially with publicly published and/or open meetings
- Disable “Join Before Host” — no one can join the session before the host is there
- Disable “Allow Removed Participants to Re-join” — individuals who have been kicked out of a session cannot slip back in
- Enable “Co-Host” to assign others to help moderate Zoom sessions
- Disable “File Transfer” — malicious files cannot be distributed.
- Require passwords to enter your class sessions, webinars, or virtual meetings
- Consider disabling chat and screen sharing before the meeting starts. You can re-enable screen sharing for specific participants while you are in the meeting
Uninstalling Zoom on your desktop or laptop computer:
- Launch Zoom, and go to the zoom.us menu and choose Uninstall. Restart your computer.
Since Zoom is constantly refining their user experience, the actual steps may vary slightly from what's presented above.