Zoom meeting rooms are public by default.  Below are some steps you can take to make your meetings more secure.’

Update on 4/9/20: UChicago IT Services has several recommended settings for class meetings, and Zoom has added a convenient ‘Security’ button along the bottom of the window (see screenshot below). This is a shortcut to enable/disable several security features. Be sure to update the Zoom app whenever possible.

Passwords

To help ensure that no one other than official participants can access your rooms, we recommend using password protection.  When you create a room, you have the option of password protecting it.  When you choose that option, the link that is generated will automatically be encoded with the password.  For example, in the link https://zoom.us/j/1234567890?pwd=Eq5Pdl9zs the number 1234567890 represents a room number, and everything after the pwd= is the encoded password.  That does not mean that your password is literally Eq5Pdl9zs.  This is just a disguised version of your password that Zoom can decode.  If you give your students the link with the encoded password, whether by posting it on Canvas or through email, all they will need to do is to click the link, and they will be taken directly into the room just as they would if there were no password. More from Zoom support.

How does this protect from unwanted intruders?  Intruders are trying all possible room numbers, and when they find one that is active, are let into the room.  However, if the room is password protected, they will be asked to provide the password before they are admitted.  Theoretically, an intruder could continue to try to hack the password, but most will not bother since it is too much trouble and there are always more rooms to try.  There is one caveat, however.  Passwords will not protect against bad actors in the class.  Anyone who has the link, has direct access to the room.  If a student shares the link with someone outside the class, that third party will also have access to the room.

This underscores the necessity of scheduling Zoom meetings in Canvas as much as possible (see my previous video here). When scheduling the meeting, you can simply click ‘Require password,’ but there is no need to send the link or password to students; they can access it directly through Zoom.

Waiting Room

As another line of defense, some instructors may choose to enable the Waiting Room feature.  The feature puts all participants on hold until manually admitted by the host(s).  It is a good safeguard to “gatekeep” who enters meetings but has some potential drawbacks.  First, it can be onerous to have to continually admit or readmit participants if someone has a bad connection and is continually dropping offline.  It is possible to designate a co-host who can monitor the waiting room and take the burden off the primary presenter.  Secondly, the participant management panel is not always visible when the host is sharing the screen, so an instructor may not be able to see that a student is trying to get readmitted.  A host would need to have the participants window open in a corner of your screen (which will not be visible to students), on top of the shared content.  Again, a co-host could be helpful in this situation, too. More from Zoom support.

Lock Meeting

Once all of the expected participants are in the meeting, you can use the ‘Lock Meeting’ function now conveniently located in the Security tab to prevent unexpected guests from joining. However, keep in mind that if anyone drops out of the meeting for whatever reason, they won’t be able to get back in unless you unlock the meeting.