Zoom.US allows leaders to practice safe ‘physical distancing’ while maintaining social contact!

By Ken Willard

In the last few weeks, all of us have been forced to learn some new things. One of those things many people are learning to do from home is Zoom.

Zoom is a web-based platform that allows people to learn, communicate, and stay in touch with others. Zoom is, by default, a video system, but there are some features which may incorporate the use of a telephone.

Before March of 2020, Zoom was averaging about 10 million sessions a day. Once the various state and federal guidelines started taking place for people to work remotely, and especially when schools and businesses started closing, Zoom saw their sessions per day average increase to 100’s of millions a day. 

With that increase in traffic and the number of brand new users, there has been some concern with the security of using Zoom for our ministry. The founder and CEO of Zoom, Eric S. Yuan, held a meeting on Wednesday, April 8th to talk about security and to answer questions. 

The company has made several upgrades in the last few weeks to their system security and will continue to do so with more upgrades coming each week. [Note: Be sure to upgrade your own account when prompted to do so.] Most of these upgrades are on the company end of the platform, so you may not notice any changes on the user end.

Here are four things Eric shared as ways for us to be more secure with Zoom and to prevent anyone from joining a meeting we are hosting uninvited:

  • Don’t share the meeting ID or link for the meeting publicly. Don’t post a Zoom meeting link on social media or on a web page.
  • Require meeting attenders to use a password to enter the meeting.
  • Use the waiting room feature. So no participants can see or hear each other until the host starts the meeting.
  • Lock the room once everyone has entered.

Some of those might be a little more advanced than where you are currently with Zoom. So here are my own top five ways for you to be more secure with Zoom:

  1. Don’t share the meeting ID or link for the meeting publicly. Don’t post a Zoom meeting link on social media or on a web page. (Yes, I know that is a repeat. It is also the main way bad people are making trouble on Zoom today.) 
  2. Set your “Screen sharing” option to “host-only”
  3. Disable (this should be the default) the “Use Personal Meeting ID” option—this way each meeting will have its own, randomly generated, ID
  4. Disable (this should be the default) “Allow removed participants to rejoin” so that if you do have to remove a participant, they will not be able to get back in that meeting
  5. Enable “Only authenticated users can join meetings” this will mean more work for you as the host and for your participants, but would ensure that only authenticated people can join a meeting (you may only want to use this if you have actually encountered an issue with someone)

Please use your best judgment in how far you need to go in order to make your Zoom meetings secure for you and your participants. Yes, there have been a few cases where someone has jumped onto a Zoom meeting uninvited and shared images or videos which were very inappropriate. However, given the number of Zoom meetings now happening each day, that percentage is very small. You are encouraged to be safe and secure and to balance that with ease of use for yourself and others.

Zoom has recently added a “Security” tab at the bottom of the host screen. Please familiarize yourself with those features to help ensure you and your participants feel safe.

Check out the “Resources” tab on your Zoom page where you can find training tutorials and webinars along with blogs containing the latest information on features and security.