Zoom configurations — 5 mins for privacy and security

Open Zoom on your laptop/desktop.
Click on the settings gear in the upper right hand corner.

2. Check the box for “stop my video and audio when my display is off or screen saver begins”.

This is a security and privacy backstop. If you forget to leave a meeting when it ends, you could continue to share your video and/or audio with other people. Theoretically, you could also share your screen for longer than you intended, too. If you make sure your Zoom session ends when your computer goes to screensaver or you’ve closed your laptop, at least you have a backstop in place.

3. Set Zoom to Turn off your video when joining a meeting.

In the Video settings area (click on Video in the left side bar):
a. make sure you check the box to turn off your video when joining a meeting;
b. Always show video preview dialog when joining a video meeting
c. Uncheck the box that would allow people to ‘hide’ if they aren’t sharing your video.

4. In the Audio settings, make sure to mute your microphone when joining a meeting.

When you want to talk, you’ll have to remember to unmute.

5. Mute those notifications.

Don’t want your call to be bombarded by pings and Slack zips? Mute notifications when you’re in a meeting or a call. This also serves a privacy purpose — no need to have the full text of an SMS or Slack chat shared with an entire meeting while you’re screen sharing. Slack chats can certainly contain sensitive customer information that may even represent a breach of an NDA or a privacy protocol if they are shared too broadly.

6. Virtual backgrounds!

Zoom makes it possible for you to insert a FOMO-style background behind you. Besides making Zoom a lot more fun, this is also a great privacy and security screen.

7. Get something to physically cover your computer’s camera when you aren’t using it.

There are low cost, highly effective adhesive windows you can use to cover your camera. A piece of painters’ tape opaque blue tape or a cleverly folded post-it will also work. You want to putting tape directly on the camera itself otherwise little gobs of adhesive will attract dust and cloud up your camera.

8. Set your phone or laptop on a hard surface and shine a light on your face.

Ok, this one has nothing to do with privacy or security. Please set your laptop or phone on a stable surface — not resting in your lap, not held in your hand. It can be mildly nauseating to have a call with someone whose video is jiggling around while they are walking down the street, cooking, or even just sitting in bed. This might be OK for your friends and family, but it is not OK for class or professional meetings.

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Laura Noren

Laura Noren

VP of Privacy and Trust at Obsidian Security interested in capable data guardianship, ethics, and data science. Writer of the Data Science Community Newsletter