The best ways to avoid Zoom bombing
In the pandemic era, technology is crucial for giving us a sense of the world outside our isolated residences.
But as cool as apps such as Zoom (for video calls) and Houseparty (for multiplayer games) are, they have a potential downside.
You've probably seen numerous stories around "Zoom bombing", where family gatherings or business meetings are invaded by uninvited guests who leave toxic comments, share pornographic images and otherwise disrupt everyone.
There have also been frequent reports of security issues in popular apps, ranging from suspected theft of passwords to apps asking for permissions they don't need or being vulnerable to hackers.
The good news is that it's not hard to avoid these problems. Follow these simple guidelines so that you can hang out on video or in apps and share experiences without it turning into a horror story.
UPDATE TO LATEST VERSION
Make sure that any app you're using is up-to-date and on the most current version.
Don't be one of those people who says "oh, updating is too much hassle". If you get a prompt in the app to update to the newest version, do it.
Pro tip: if you've scheduled a group game or video, sign into the software 10 minutes before it starts, so you've got time to update if needed.
You can also be proactive about finding out if you're up-to-date. Most computer apps will have a "check for updates" option.
On your phone, you can check in the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android) to see if you're on the current version.
KNOW YOUR SECURITY OPTIONS
Learn what security options are available in any software you're using, and take advantage of them.
For instance, by default any Houseparty games are open not just to your friends, but to their friends.
If you want to keep things private, "lock" the game by hitting the padlock icon at the bottom of the screen.
Another example: Zoom allows you to set up meetings with a password, meaning they can't be accessed by unauthorised guests.
Take advantage of those options in a sensible way. If you're hosting a session with family and friends, don't share the session link or password in a public forum like Facebook. Instead, organise the group on Facebook, then message them individually with details. It's a little more hassle, but worth the effort.
VARY YOUR PASSWORDS
Make sure you're following the most basic security rule of all: don't use the same password for every service or app you sign up for. That's just asking for trouble.
If that particular service or app is hacked, then your password for multiple apps will become instantly available.
Use the password manager built into your favourite browser and you'll be able to have unique passwords without having to remember them all.
Angus Kidman is the editor-in-chief and travel guru for Finder.
Originally published as 3 ways to avoid Zoom bombing