With the increasing demand to work remotely, the use of tools like Zoom (or other online platforms) has become increasingly important, and as a result the apps are becoming quite a bit more popular.  You may have heard, in the news, about Zoom Bombing, which is when somebody hacks into your chat stream, often shouting vulgar things at the users.  Zoom has taken steps towards fixing this problem, but there still are some important things to make sure you’re keeping safe in these situations.

Let’s start by looking at setting up the meeting.  First thing, it helps to be prepared a few minutes ahead of time so that if there are any hiccups in the system, you can get things running smoothly and stay on schedule. If it’s your first time using one of these apps, it’s a good idea to have a practice meeting with someone to ensure that you can successfully start a session. This will prevent leaving a client hanging while you scramble to fix the issue. Be mindful of who you are sending the invitation for the meeting to.  Usually you can see everybody who is in the meeting, but whoever has access to the link sent, can access the meeting, so DO NOT post the link on a website or public forum, send direct invitations only to intended participants.

For the second point, we’ll look at somethings to pay attention to while in a meeting.  Make sure you pay attention to the members of the meeting, and if the list grows or shrinks.  As we aren’t meeting in person as much as possible these days, we are discussing increasingly important information through these mediums.  Whether it’s personal information about a client, trade secrets or financial information, keeping an eye that there aren’t unwanted participants in a chat session can prevent information from falling into the wrong hands.  If you suspect there is someone who shouldn’t be in the conversation, it is best to have all participants close out of the session and start a new one. The other side of this is people not getting necessary information. Because many of us are in rural settings, it’s quite possible that they have spotty internet service.  If you have members of your team who fall into this category, keep an eye that they aren’t dropping out of group chats. This can save problems that happen when people don’t have the necessary information.  Most of these apps have a file sharing component as well, but I would highly recommend distributing information another way, like e-mailing documents, or using a cloud service such as Dropbox or Google Cloud.  The current recommendation is that you turn off file sharing in the app if possible, as it closes off a lane of entrance to your computer.

While we’re on the topic of people getting information, we should discuss how to properly use the equipment to insure the best communication possible.  All of the mics and cameras are slightly different, but almost universally they are designed to have you sitting back from it and speak directly to it.  These microphones are often directional, which means the closer you get to it, the easier it is to fall out of its range of ideal sound pick up.  Getting up too close can also lead to the mic getting overloaded, and distorting your voice or what is called the “proximity effect” and have an increasingly low sounding voice.  The issue with this is people are often listening on laptop or phone speakers that don’t replicate low end frequencies very well, so it can cause distorting that way, or information not getting heard.

Now we’ll talk about closing out the meeting.  When it comes time to end the conversation, it is best practice, to use the “end call”, “hang up” or “leave chat” button, and then close out the window.  The American President recently made headlines for a reaction to one of his national addresses thinking that the cameras were no longer rolling, you don’t need that.  Now, that is more humorous, but it’s important to make sure that people are no longer able to hear you before you discuss sensitive information.   Most of these cameras and microphones have lights that show whether they’re active or not, and usually that is reliable that nobody is able to see or hear you, so after the conversation check to make sure that the camera’s light is off.  Some people prefer to unplug their microphone, or cover the camera, to prevent a hacker turning it on and spying.  This is unnecessary in most cases, but if it gives you peace of mind that you are 100% secure, it’s a simple enough process, just remember to plug it back in before your next meeting.

This is a weird time we’re living and working in, so I hope this helps with the changing working place environment for people.

If you have any questions about working remotely, reach out anytime! Your team at VS is here to support you.