How to Protect Yourself in the Age of Videoconferencing Calls

Zoom calls, for one, aren’t as private as you may think. Here are some ways to protect yourself as we work—and play—at home during the pandemic.

Suddenly, videoconferencing is everywhere. We use it for work, for school, for exercise, and to socialize during the coronavirus pandemic.

But there is a darker side, privacy experts say. The Silicon Valley videoconferencing app Zoom, in particular, is finding itself under scrutiny for data privacy and security concerns. The app—which reserves the right to store a user’s personal data—was downloaded 2.13 million times around the world on March 23, the day a lockdown was announced in the UK.

On Monday, the FBI’s Boston field office warned of a surge in “Zoom-bombing,” the practice of unwanted guests intruding on video meetings for malicious purposes, after two schools were affected. On the same day, the office of New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, sent Zoom a letter asking what, if any, new security measures the company has put in place to handle increased traffic on its network and to detect hackers.

Getting “Zoom-Bombed”

Here are some tips to protect your next Zoom videoconferencing event, from Zoom, the FBI, and Consumer Reports:

  • Keep your Zoom app updated.
  • Do not make meetings or classrooms public.
  • Lock the meeting.
  • Set up two-factor authentication.
  • Turn screen-sharing options to “host only.”
  • Learn how to remove unwanted participants.
  • Keep your camera and microphone turned off unless you are actually speaking.
  • Use a background provided by Zoom or use your own photo to safeguard your privacy.
  • If you plan to record the call, require participants to click on a consent button before recording begins.
  • Be aware that Zoom has an “attention tracking” feature to monitor whether a participant clicks away from the screen.

(sam thomas/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Jeff Hsin

By Jeff Hsin


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