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Securing a Free Zoom Account

Do you need to create a free Zoom account to video chat with friends and family? Well, let’s make sure we are securing that free Zoom account too. Whether it is for yourself or your, your parents or your children, please ensure you run through some of the settings in the Zoom portal https://zoom.us/profile/setting.

Zoom has risen from zero to hero in the last five years. If you’ve been to London, do doubt you’ve seen a London Taxi with their logo all over it. If you’ve been to Heathrow Airport, you can’t escape their branding. Zoom offers unlimited 121 calling and free 40-minute calls to any multiple users and it’s limited to 100 people in that group call. Good enough for a family chat. However, remember you can do group video calls with Facetime, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Facebook etc all for free too.

So once you have enabled your account, you need to secure it. What do I mean? Well, there are lots of settings and many are on as default which probably should be disabled by default in my opinion. Why, well there was a series of ZoomBombings last week which could cause distress to people. As I was setting up accounts for my kids (in case they requested it as they have Teams and Hangouts too and the awful Houseparty that can’t be controlled), I thought I’d share what I have locked down in their Zoom settings. Think of it like leaving your home front door open if you don’t apply any locks or chains (on the Zoom cloud).

At the top of the settings, you could start the session with Video disabled to ensure no one sees you until you are ready.

Settings

Now we should disable Join before the host. This means no one is in the meeting until the organiser of the Zoom call arrives. Also d not use your personal meeting ID for calls, only share that with certain trusted people. Another good one is to ensure everyone is signed into Zoom. It makes it more secure and traceable. Finally in this section, make sure each meeting has a passcode, so no one can barge in.

Next, we want to make joining simply for users, so enable password in meeting links. Also ensure anyone joining by the good old telephone, that they have a password enabled. Also, Mute participants upon entry, if you disable this, it means no one is hiding when they join, you will be able to hear them. Make sure encryption is enabled in case someone joins from the video conferencing system. Optional, you can disable/enable chat, prevent users from saving chats and even private 1-2-1 chats.

Now in the next section, we don’t want chats saved necessarily. When people join/leaving the meeting, it is wise for a tone to play so you know someone has left or joined in case you are not focusing on the screen. Also, anyone joining by telephone, they have to record their name, so they are announced when they join. It is also advisable to disable file transfer, so no one can send you a file, that could infect your computer, we have enough of that going around at the moment with humans. There is no need to provide feedback to Zoom or a survey at the end either.

This next section is about sharing your screen. You can allow this, but I would limit this to the host only, so other people can’t show you their screen unless you give them permission. Also, you can ensure they can’t share their whole desktop, just an application like Word/Excel/Browser or another app. Another key security issue is the desktop remote control. You do not want others to control your desktop randomly. This could be useful if you needed to assist someone remotely but could enable it for that particular session. Finally, here we have the setting that blocks someone from rejoining your meeting. If you have removed them because they “broke in” or a friend is annoying/rude etc, you can remove them from the meeting and they are not allowed to rejoin unless you send them a new meeting invite.

Not many settings to change in this section as they are the most advanced features. Breakout rooms and remote support are not necessary. Also, ensure Far-end camera control is disabled in case you have a camera that moves around, someone else could control it if enabled. The virtual background is optional if your computer can process it without a green screen. This allows you to hide your room and place you say on a beach. Also it is it handy to show anyone as guest in the side roster list.

Again, not much to change here. I would enable the Join from a Browser link, this means that someone else does not have to download the Zoom app and can use their Chrome, Firefox, Edge browser. Also, if a meeting is recorded, you can get a link to that in your email. Finally, you can opt to receive an email when someone joins your meeting, this will help you remember you scheduled a call 🙂

In the final part of the settings, I would enable notifications for meetings that you’ve cancelled.

So there we have the Basic Account Settings for a free Zoom meeting account. These are my thoughts, feel free to adjust them as you require.

Meet Happy

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