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Zoom Security Precautions
Zoom has become the most popular video conferencing platform out there, which is why it’s become such a big target for hackers. In fact, there are reportedly thousands of Zoom accounts for sale on the dark web as we speak.1 For all we know, someone is buying my and your Zoom accounts right now. Creepy.
Now that we’re both thoroughly creeped out, let’s talk about how we can protect our Zoom accounts and enhance our Zoom security precautions.
How do I access my settings on Zoom?
Most of the tips we’re recommending here are accessed through the settings on your Zoom account. Let’s make sure you can access your Zoom settings.
- Make sure you have a Zoom account, and log in at Zoom’s website.
We're adjusting all our settings on the site because it allows you to access settings that aren't readily available on the app. So we recommend signing in on the Zoom website to follow along and make sure you don't miss a step.
2. Now that you’re logged in, go to your Settings on the far right of the screen.
From this menu, you can make changes to your account that will improve your Zoom security.
Require passwords for everything
As a rule of thumb, if there’s an option to have a password for something in Zoom, you’d be wise to put a password in place. Not putting a password on your Zoom meeting is kind of like putting a sign on your front yard that says “Don’t worry, we DON’T have home security.”
Thankfully, Zoom puts all the password-specific options in the same area. You’ll want all of the options shown below to be blue with the white circle on the right.
Some of these settings may be locked to the on position, like ours above. If yours are on and locked too, that's a good thing.
Make sure you have a strong password
This is a good rule of thumb for any online account, but it’s especially true for your Zoom account. Follow these four tips if you want to make a strong and unique password.
- Make your password at least 12 characters long.
- Include a combination of numbers, symbols, capital letters, and lower-case letters.
- Stay away from obvious dictionary words and obvious word combinations. For example, “dog” is obviously not a strong password, nor is “doghouse.”
- Don’t rely on obvious number substitutions. Even though it feels cool to substitute a “7” for an “T,” it doesn’t mean that it will actually protect your password.
Hopefully if my sister-in-law is reading this, she’ll finally decide to change her password from “passy.” She says it sounds like she gave her password a cute nickname.
Turn off Allow participants to join before host
This is another option that you’ll probably want to turn off to better secure your Zoom meetings. When enabled, the Join Before Host option allows users to start a meeting before the host arrives. Sure, this can come in handy if you’re running late to a meeting, but it also invites the risk of a hacker starting the meeting before you even get there.
To turn this setting off, scroll down until you see the Schedule Meeting section and the Allow participants to join before host option. Hit the slider button once so it’s grayed out.
Turn off guest screen sharing
You can turn off Guest Screen Sharing to make sure no one can share their desktop with you. Imagine if someone took over your Zoom meeting, shared their screen with the group, and somehow found embarrassing baby photos of you!
Keep scrolling on your settings until you see Screen Sharing with a button slider. It will look like this:
Click the slider until the circle moves to the left and the button becomes gray. Now you won’t need to worry about anyone showing you something on their screen that you don’t want to see.
Don’t share Zoom conference links on social media
For those of you who want to host Zoom meetings open to the public, be careful about sharing an invite link on social media. There’s always a chance a hacker could get hold on the link and wreak havoc on your meeting. If you want to post a Zoom link on social media, we would recommend limiting the post to your friend’s list.
Be careful about what you say on a Zoom conference call
Don’t ever give you sensitive information over a Zoom conference call. Even if you’re talking to your most trusted advisor over a Zoom call, don’t you dare say out loud your social security number, credit card numbers, or any other sensitive information. You’re probably not being spied on during your Zoom calls, but sometimes it’s good to pretend like you are.
Be aware of what’s in the line of sight of your camera. You don’t want to have anything sensitive written down that can be easily seen on the camera. Or any Avril Lavigne posters.
As long as you don’t give away any sensitive information on your Zoom call, you can worry a lot less about your Zoom's security.
If Zoom has got you spooked, consider using a more secure video conferencing platform.
If you're working at home, check out our WFH internet guide.
- Ezra Kaplan and Kevin Collier, NBCNews, “Passwords and Email Addresses for Thousands of Zoom Accounts Are for Sale on the Dark Web,” April 2020. Accessed April 29, 2020.