Hackers are terrorizing virtual meetings – Here’s how to stay safe

Now more than ever, video conferencing has become an integral tool for conducting business. It’s allowed many companies to operate as close to “business as usual” as possible – keeping clients and teams connected during this mandatory work from home period. 

Which is why recent reports of hackers breaking into Zoom meetings and disturbing them with violent images, hate speech and pornography are especially troubling. 

Don’t fret – with a few precautions, it’s possible to continue video conferencing safely and securely. Here are a few tips to keep in mind the next time you’re scheduling a video conference with others. 

Don’t use your personal meeting ID

There are a few options for setting up a meeting via Zoom. The most popular (and convenient) method is using your personal meeting ID – an ID you’re assigned once you sign up for the platform – to generate an invite. If your personal meeting ID gets compromised, however, it means your entire account is now jeopardized. So instead, opt for the feature that generates a randomized meeting ID to send out to attendees when you schedule your next virtual conference. 

Require a password

Putting a password on your meeting adds an extra layer of security. If a hacker does get a hold of your meeting ID, they won’t be able to enter without knowing the password you’ve created in your meeting settings. Passwords can be set up on individual meetings as well as within groups on Zoom to keep both internal calls with your team members and external calls safe. 

Send the meeting ID and password via email – without the meeting link

To make your attendees feel more secure about joining your meeting, opt to send an invite directly via email with the meeting ID and password, rather than with a Zoom link. Why? Phishing schemes are usually done via a link that appears to be legitimate, which means Zoom meeting links are currently at risk. Sending the meeting credentials without a link allows participants to breathe easier and know the credentials they’ve been sent are not a scam. 

Use the waiting room feature 

To make sure that only the people you’ve invited are attending, use Zoom’s waiting room feature. If you’re the host, it allows you to pre-screen each attendee individually before granting them access. Of course, this can be a bit time consuming if you’re hosting a meeting with a large number of participants. But if you’re looking to ensure the safety of your meeting, it’s a feature worth looking into. 

Disable screen sharing

In the event that someone does gain entry to your meeting, disabling the screen sharing feature will help keep some of the potential damage under control. To do this, you’ll need to start the meeting first, then select “Advanced Settings,” and select the option to only allow the meeting host to share their screen. 

Designate a “Co-Host” or “Alternate Host”

Need help keeping an eye on things? An alternate host allows someone else to start the meeting before you sign on, while a co-host is designated during the meeting. If you’re planning to lead the meeting and want to have an extra pair of eyes on the screen while you’re presenting, either host option allows them to mute a participant in the event someone who’s not supposed to be there ends up joining. 

Don’t allow file sharing

Turn off file sharing capabilities before your meeting starts. This will ensure that no one can send harmful files to the group in the event of a breach. If you’re planning to share materials during the meeting, send through before or after the call rather than on the actual meeting.