Millions are turning for the first time to the video-call app Zoom as the coronavirus lockdowns upend their way of life. Here's how to protect your videos. File picture: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Millions are turning for the first time to the video-call app Zoom as the coronavirus lockdowns upend their way of life. Here's how to protect your videos. File picture: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

4 ways to protect your Zoom calls

By Drew Harwell Time of article published Apr 6, 2020

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Millions of people are turning for the first time to the video-call app Zoom as the coronavirus lockdowns upend their way of life. But some are also making mistakes that could leave their privacy and security at risk, and thousands of Zoom video calls have now been left publicly viewable on the open Web. Here's how to protect your videos:

1. Do you need to record?

Zoom allows people to live-stream their meetings and doesn't store the content of those calls, according to its privacy policy. But a call "host," who starts the meeting, can decide to record the call, either to save it to their own computers or upload it to Zoom's servers. Participants on a call are notified through audio and video when a host decides to record; if you don't want to be recorded, you can ask the host to stop recording or leave the call. If you're a host, the easiest way to protect your videos is not to record them in the first place.

2. Consider renaming the file.

When Zoom saves a video to a host's computer, it gives the recording a default file name that a stranger can easily predict and then search for through one of the free search engines that scans open Web directories and online file services. If you don't want to give away that the file was recorded via Zoom, consider using a random file name or calling it something unique.

3. Watch where you post it.

Zoom allows people to upload their recordings onto the popular online file sites run by Amazon, Dropbox and Google, as well as the video sites of YouTube and Vimeo. If you don't want the file to be public, make sure your accounts on those sites are set to private or protected by a password. If someone attempts to find the file, the site will deny them access.

4. These other settings can help.

Zoom offers lots of ways to protect your calls from snoops and trolls, but many of the settings (which you can find here) can be confusing. A few tips you might like:

Don't publicly share your Zoom "Meeting ID." Send it directly to the people you want on the call.

Set a password for the meeting, then share that only with the right people.

Make sure "screen sharing" is set to "Host Only." That prevents other people on the call from abruptly blasting text or images onto the other participants' screen - a favored tactic of "zoombombing" trolls.

Use the "waiting room" feature. It prevents new participants from joining the call until the host approves.

Use a "virtual background" if you want to cover up everything behind you with some other image or video. It's pretty fun.

The Washington Post

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