With much of the American workforce (and educational systems) working remotely, reliance upon videoconferencing software for workplace and educational collaboration has increased significantly. One of the more widely embraced platforms during the pandemic is Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (“Zoom”). According to the New York Times, around 600,000 people downloaded the Zoom application on March 15, 2020. And, for anyone who has used Zoom, you’re probably not surprised by its growth because Zoom is, after all, user-friendly; effective and convenient; and easy to share documents and screens among many participants for collaboration.

In a word, Zoom makes remote work and studies significantly less inconvenient. But, it is important to remember the convenience is not without risk.  Indeed, recent articles have detailed the myriad security issues posed by Zoom including the undisclosed way in which Zoom share(s) user data with LinkedIn and Facebook, for example; the company does not support end-to-end encryption; and a growing trend in which internet trolls jump onto public Zoom conferences and utilize the screen-sharing feature to project inappropriate, graphic content.*  According to security experts, there is an “automated Zoom meeting discover tool called ‘zWarDial’ ” that disrupters are using to find non-password protected Zoom meetings that could be “bombed.” This prompted the FBI to issue a warning to Zoom users.  In addition to the disruption caused by a “bomber,” once a Zoom meeting is infiltrated, any private, sensitive or confidential information may be at risk of compromise.

Because reliance on videoconferencing software is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, it is important for everyone hosting and participating in videoconference meetings to be cognizant of the risks and take necessary precautions including:**

  • Keep Your Meetings Private – Be sure that all business meetings are set as “private” and not “public” and do not post links to meetings on public forums or social media websites.
  • Set a Password – There is no good reason not to set a password to require participants to enter a meeting. Further, use a different password for every meeting. This is a simple and easy, yet effective, way to make your meetings more secure.
  • Manage Screen Sharing – The meeting host has the option to prevent participants from sharing their screens. If possible, consider this measure to prevent hackers from displaying inappropriate content.
  • Know Your Participants – If you notice that someone unfamiliar has joined the meeting, remove them. You can always allow them to rejoin later. Further, once you see that all invited participants have joined, lock the meeting. This prevents others from joining.
  • Be Cautious – While taking these precautions will decrease your vulnerability to hackers, be aware that hackers still may find their way into your private meetings. You should always be aware of this. To the extent possible, refrain from discussing highly confidential personal or business information that may put you, other employees, or your company at risk.

*Even before the current pandemic, Zoom was addressing security issues that allowed its users to be vulnerable to hackers. (See Forbes article from January 2020).

**Zoom has offered its own guidance with respect to these concerns, accessible here