While this kind of problem can show up on any kind of video-conferencing service -- I've seen reports of it on everything from Google Hangouts to Microsoft Teams to Skype -- Zoom users appear to be getting hit the most.
There are several reasons some Zoom users are having so much trouble.
First, by default, a Zoom meeting doesn't require a password. That means it is all too easy for new work-at-home meeting organizers to leave their friends' get-togethers, progress meetings, or virtual classrooms open to snoops or abusers.
Yes, that's a lousy default. Hopefully, Zoom will fix it soon.
That said, if you're managing Zoom for the first time, or any other new program, you must learn it's "gotchas" before they get you. That leads to the simple fact that we have hundreds of thousands of new video-conferencing organizers who've never set up an online meeting in their lives. A big reason why Zoom is so popular is it's so easy to use.
But, and this is vital, it's not so easy to run it securely as a meeting organizer. Yes, I know you're a teacher, an office manager, or just a bloke who wants to see his buddies. But, thanks to the coronavirus and our new work-at-home offices everyone -- and I mean everyone, like it or not -- is now their home office security officer.
So, here's what you need to secure Zoom so you and your friends, students, or co-workers can meet safely.
Securing Zoom meetings with passwords
You can add Zoom passwords at the individual meeting level, or they can be enabled at the user, group, or account level for all meetings and webinars. Account owners and admins can also require passwords for all meetings and webinars on their account. I advise making passwords your default for all meetings.
To do this for your account, take the following steps:
Navigate to the Meeting tab and verify that the password settings that you would like to use for your meetings and webinars are enabled.
No matter whether you're setting up passwords for your account, groups, or specific meetings and seminars, you'll see essentially the same choices. For maximum safety, I suggest activating passwords for new meetings, instant meetings, personal meetings, aka PMI, and people joining by phone.
You can make it easier for people to use a password and join a meeting by choosing the option to embed the password within the meeting link. While that makes it much easier for people joining your meetings, it also means that you must make sure only the people you want get that link. Otherwise, anyone who grabs it can jump into your meeting. And, you're back once more into having unwelcome visitors in your conference.
By now, you're probably figured out that while joining and participating in a Zoom meeting is easy, managing them is much harder. You're right. It is. But, if working from home and running Zoom meetings, it looks like it's going to be a big part of your job going forward, and you need to master them.