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Security & privacy

Update Zoom now! 4 new security settings to protect your meetings

As more people started working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic last month, video conferencing software Zoom became a household name almost overnight. The term “Zoombombing” became well-known just as quickly.

Internet trolls took advantage of Zoom’s lax settings by hijacking meetings to screen-share graphic videos depicting porn and violence. Not even virtual classrooms were safe. Tap or click here to find out more about college courses that were trolled with horrifying results.

Between Zoombombing and many other facepalm-inducing security problems, the company has been working to quickly roll out updates to regain users’ trust. Now Zoom has released its’ biggest update yet and if you use the software, you really need to download the latest version now.

Update Zoom for these key security improvements

This week, Zoom is releasing version 5.0 as part of the company’s promise to address complaints and fix a multitude of privacy and security issues. Below are some of the notable updates in this version and others released earlier this month:

  • Meeting passwords: This was already an existing Zoom feature, but it’s now turned on by default for most customers.
  • Waiting Room: That’s similar to another change Zoom made earlier this month when the Waiting Room feature was enabled by default. That means attendees have to hang out in a virtual waiting room before being admitted.
  • Security icon: Existing security features that were previously hidden in various menus are now grouped together on the host’s menu bar. Through that icon, you can restrict screen sharing, other users’ audio, remove participants and lock meetings.
  • Improved encryption: Zoom also upgraded to the AES 256-bit GCM encryption standard, which basically means more protection and privacy for your meetings.

Read more about those upgrades here on Zoom’s official blog. Download Zoom 5.0 by tapping or clicking here. If the latest version still shows up as 4.6.12, check back throughout the week. Keep reading for more about Zoombombing and other problems Zoom has been facing.

Zoombombing is now a thing

One way people have been staying connected to others while practicing social distancing is by taking advantage of video chat apps like Zoom and others. Programs like FaceTime and Skype let you have face-to-face conversations without actually being in the same room, keeping everyone away from germs and potential coronavirus carriers.

Zoom’s huge userbase has attracted a fair share of trolls. A group of coworkers shared their frightening story with Tech Crunch last month. Every week these coworkers conduct a video meeting through Zoom that they call WFH Happy Hour. This week, a troll decided to crash the party by entering the chat and posting graphic porn videos in a move that’s called ZoomBombing.

Everyone involved was horrified but there was nothing they could do about it. They tried kicking the troll out of the meeting but the troll just kept entering under different usernames. The problem lies in Zoom’s default settings. The good news is you can adjust these settings to keep ZoomBombing from happening to you.

How to block trolls from Zoom

So, how are trolls able to access Zoom meetings? One way is by getting the link to a meeting that is shared on a public platform like Twitter. If you tweet a link to a Zoom chat, it could be seen and used by anyone.

Plus, the default setting under Screen sharing is enabled. It allows both the host and participants to share their screen or content during meetings.

So let’s fix this now.

Click Settings on the left side of the Zoom website and scroll down to Screen sharing. Slide the toggle to the left to disable this, which blocks participants from sharing content of any kind. The toggle will go from blue to gray when you disable it.

Another thing you’ll want to do while changing settings is to block others from sharing files. If a troll makes it into your meeting and has the ability to share files, they could share porn or worse — including malware that could infect your device.

While in Settings, scroll down to the File transfer section. Once there, slide the toggle to the left next to “Hosts and participants can send files through the in-meeting chat.” The toggle will go from blue to gray when you disable it


You can go to jail for it now

Not everyone is taking the ZoomBombing epidemic lying down. In an urgent press release from the Department of Justice, federal, state and local law enforcement are urging Zoom hijackers to stand down or face legal penalties.

This comes after Michigan’s chief officials, including multiple U.S. Attorneys, called upon ZoomBombing victims to come forward and report their stories to the FBI’s Internet Crimes division.

Charges to offenders may include disrupting a public meeting, computer intrusion, using a computer to commit a crime, hate crimes, fraud, or transmitting threatening communications. All of these offenses are punishable by fines or imprisonment.

Of course, if all these security missteps from Zoom have put a sour taste in your mouth, you could make the switch to Skype. Microsoft has rolled out a free video conferencing solution under the Skype banner that lets you generate video meetings just like Zoom. Only this time, it’s backed by Microsoft’s more robust security apparatus.

This app requires no installation or accounts. Just visit the website and click Create a Free Meeting to get started.

Just like Zoom, though, don’t let anyone else see the links if you don’t want them to attend. If you share it publicly, you’re still leaving the door open for trolls.

While we’re dealing with this COVID-19 pandemic, online tools like Zoom are critical in helping make things easier. Now that you know how to keep trolls from invading meetings, you can use Zoom without fear. Happy chatting.

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