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As more people work from home and shelter in place, Zoom's popularity has exploded. Here are some tips to help avoid scams and stay safe. As coronavirus continues disrupting daily life, more people are turning to video conferencing services like Zoom to work from home and socialize while maintaining a physical distance. With a rapidly expanding base of new and inexperienced users, Zoom is fast becoming a popular target for hackers and phishing expeditions.

As a result, users should familiarize themselves with common signs of scams and learn to take advantage of the platform's built-in security features. Popular as it is, Zoom can still leave users vulnerable to exploitation. With everyone from governments to businesses to schools now utilizing the service, users should remain vigilant against attacks.

There are simple ways to try and stay safe while using Zoom, and many of the easiest methods are general safety tips that ought to be observed for all online activity.

For example:

  • Watch out for invites from unknown senders - with office meetings and classes being held remotely, it's important to make sure the organizer is someone known and trusted.

  • Don't click on any links to meetings provided in the body of an email, to avoid being unwittingly redirected to a scam site - enter the URL manually, along with the password (if one is provided).

  • Also, be sure to keep Zoom (and any antivirus software) up to date.

Within Zoom itself, there are multiple steps that can be taken to help secure meetings.

  • Set and use a password - hackers have been known to guess the random numbers used to allocate Zoom's chat rooms and, without a password, can waltz right in.

  • As the meeting's host, consider setting Zoom's host controls so only you can share images and screens with others - without host controls in place, anyone in a meeting can share any image they want, including ones they shouldn't.

  • Meetings can be password-protected and locked so that, after a set time, no new users can join.

  • File-sharing can also be turned off, to prevent attendees from offering unsolicited files and images - as can annotations, to keep people from scribbling on any images shared by the host.

  • There's even a waiting room feature, which allows the host to make sure everyone signed in to attend a meeting ought to be there.

Even in the midst of a global pandemic, hackers will hack (though some have sworn off taking action against essential institutions) and trolls will troll. Crashing Zoom meetings has become a common-enough idea to have developed its own name - Zoombombing. With coronavirus still on the rise in many locations and physical distancing orders upending life for the foreseeable future, Zoom will no doubt continue to see heavy use. Learning how to safely utilize Zoom in the coronavirus era could save time, headaches, and embarrassment in the future.

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