In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, people wanted to get together while staying safe from infection. This led to the rapid emergence of Zoom meeting rooms.

Probably because many offices were already using Zoom at work for videoconferencing, the app immediately became the most popular videoconferencing app of the day.

There were a few hiccups along the way because Zoom was meant to be primarily a business app. First, while Zoom included some methods that could be used to safeguard meetings, those features were hard to find, especially if you were a first-time user. Meetings were often interrupted by unwanted intruders who would intentionally cause disruptions. This was a problem that was soon named “Zoombombing”).

This led to a considerable backlash, most of it concerning lack of security for users. As an answer, the company introduced additional safety measures. For example, it enabled virtual waiting rooms and passwords by default for accounts in its free and lowest-paid tiers and encouraged users to use unique meeting IDs instead of their permanently assigned personal IDs.

Dealing with passwords and virtual waiting rooms may make for a less friendly interface, but it also means it is less likely somebody you do not know will pop into your family get-together.

Although there are several alternative video conferencing services available, Zoom remains a popular choice. If you use the Basic version of Zoom, here are some ways to keep your meetings secure.
Use a unique meeting ID and password

Zoom adds passwords to accounts by default, and those passwords can be embedded in the meeting links. For instance, if you schedule a meeting, you will notice that the link contains your meeting ID and, right after that, the password for the meeting. Anyone you send that link will be able to immediately gain access to your meeting without having to separately key in a password — and if they decide to post that link publicly, it will negate any security the password might have provided.

So while everyone who uses Zoom has a personal meeting ID, using that ID for all your meetings means more and more people will know that ID, and that increases the chances someone unwelcome may find their way in.

Therefore, when you schedule a meeting, Zoom now assumes you want to use an automatically generated unique meeting ID rather than your meeting ID. There are a few reasons to use that personal ID — even if you have a regularly scheduled conference with friends, you can simply send out a new invitation (with a new meeting ID) for each meeting, just to be safe.
Use the virtual waiting room

Meeting hosts can approve anyone who wants to join a meeting by using a virtual waiting room, from which you can then either allow them in — or lock them out.

When each participant invited to the meeting clicks on their link, they will be asked to wait, while you will get a notification at the top of your screen telling you someone has entered the waiting room. You can either immediately admit them or click on “View.”

A sidebar will then show you everyone who is waiting to enter the meeting; you can then either admit them, remove them from the waiting room (and deny them any chance to enter the meeting), or send them a message.

Having to approve everyone who wants to join might be a pain to deal with, especially if you are expecting a lot of people, but it will ensure that anyone who shows up in your meeting belongs there.
Lock down, do not share, kick them out

There are several other Zoom security features you can use to protect yourself and other participants.

If you know exactly who belongs in your meeting, and they are all present, you can lock down the meeting by clicking on the “Security” link at the bottom of the screen and choosing “Lock Meeting.” After a meeting is locked, even somebody who has the meeting ID and password cannot get in.

Using the same menu could also be a good idea, especially if you are conducting a meeting with many people, to uncheck the “Share Screen” option.

If by an unfortunate coincidence somebody who means to disrupt the meeting is allowed to share their screen, they can make things extremely uncomfortable for the rest of the participants.

In case at some point, a participant has a legitimate need to share their screen, you can re-enable sharing at any time.

If a participant does start to misbehave but you do not necessarily want to kick them out, you can put them back in the waiting room. To do this, click on the “Participants” icon at the bottom of your screen, find the name of the participant on the side panel, hover over their name, and then click on “More” > “Put in Waiting Room.” The participant will no longer have access to the meeting; in effect, they will be back in the waiting room until you decide to let them return.

You can also kick somebody out of the meeting entirely by using that same drop-down menu and clicking on “Remove.” If that becomes necessary, it may be a good idea to then lock the meeting so they cannot attempt to get back in.

If things get really out of hand, click on the Security icon and select “Suspend Participant Activities.”

This will stop “all video, audio, in-meeting chat, annotation, screen sharing, and recording during that time” and as host, you will be asked if you want to report any user.

You will also be able to supply details of the problem, along with screenshots. That person will be removed from the meeting (and reported to Zoom’s “Trust and Safety” team), and you can then re-enable your various meeting features and continue your meeting.

Final thoughts

Video conferencing has become a mainstream method of communication in the workplace today. Therefore Zoom meeting rooms must be well secured.

Also read: How IT Teams Can Help Employees Working Remotely