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To Zoom or Not to Zoom?

Apr 12, 2020

No doubt you will have been watching the news and watching how we are witnessing a technological revolution not just at home, but at work and even in the NHS.  One technology product which has been making the headlines is the video conferencing software Zoom.  Zoom is a video conferencing software which enables families, friends and co-workers to connect via video calls.  Given the lockdown happening across the UK these tools are playing a vital part to society to stay in touch.

Across the country, council meetings, church services, committee meetings, seminars, TV shows, concerts and more have all been taking place via video conferencing software.  Whilst video conferencing software such as Zoom has been around for many years, it’s only now that we are seeing people readily adopt it.  Just to give you an idea of the scale at which this is taking place, Zoom reported that in normal times they would have about 10million users a month use their services, it’s now over 200million and it happened within 3 weeks!

Security Issues Over Hyped?

Sadly, it’s been widely reported in the media that Zoom is unsafe to use.  Unfortunately what the media fail to report is that a lot of the issues that have been reported are down to how the end user is using the technology and not enabling some of the basic security functions.  For example, people were starting meetings and then publicly promoting direct links to the meeting via social media – this is what lead to people having their meetings ‘zoom-bombed’ not the technology itself.

Unless you work in the security services, Zoom is just fine to use.  It is so easy to use and so simple to adopt (and free!) that Zoom has become a victim of it’s own success during these times!  The audio and video quality is actually better than standard phone lines, and on a security front it’s more secure than your standard landline!  There are some security settings though that you do need to take note of which are outlined below.  We have also given you some ideas of other platforms you can use too!

Don’t let the media put you off, video conferencing software is a great way to keep in touch with people!  It’s also a lot of fun!  Just make sure you take the time to set it up right.

Here’s our tips for using Zoom and other video conferencing software options:

Zoom

To Zoom or not to Zoom?  That IS the question.  There has been so much about Zoom in the media about security, but Zoom had fixed a lot of those issues in 2019, and they released a huge security update on 1st April forcing people to use passwords for every meeting by default and enabled a whole host of other security features by default.  The reality is, Zoom is super easy to use and if you follow the basic security settings in Zoom you can’t go wrong.  The audio and video quality is the best out there and the options whilst in the meeting are second to none.

However, to remove any fears, make sure you do these 6 things for every meeting:

  1. Generate an auto meeting ID (don’t use your personal number for additional security)
  2. Make sure you add a password (this is now enabled by default) for any meeting
  3. Enable your waiting room if you’re hosing a meeting which enables you to ‘check’ who’s waiting before they are admitted to the meeting.  This conquers any risk of ‘zoom-bombing’ you might have read about.
  4. Never publish your meeting information over social media or on public websites.  This is where a number of people have come unstuck as it opens up your meeting to anybody in the world.  Instead organise your meetings via e-mail internally.  Never share publicly the direct meeting link either!
  5. Make sure you have also disabled the option ‘Join Before Host’
  6. Whilst on a meeting remember to mute your microphone or video when appropriate and don’t forget to leave the meeting at the end.

You can use Zoom for free but this will limit you to only meetings that are 40 minutes in length.  If you buy a pro subscription this will extend the meeting length up to 24 hours in length which is more than enough (see pricing here).  The great thing too though, is that you only need to buy one pro account in order to host meetings with up to 100 others.  This increases your security and offers additional features at great value.  With updates being launched frequently on Zoom make sure you are also using the latest version.

Visit the Zoom website here

WebEx

WebEx is a great alternative to Zoom but it is a little bit more clunky to use.  There is a free version and premium version available (see pricing here).

WebEx is very similar to Zoom and all you need to do just like Zoom to join a meeting is enter the meeting ID and password.  WebEx offers 3 views whilst in the meeting which includes active speaker, thumbnail and grid view.  Here’re some tips for using WebEx for work:

  1. Send out a written agenda in advance of the meeting so that everyone knows what will be covered in the allotted time.  With so many working from home right now this is a great tip for getting the most out of your scheduled time.
  2. Setup WebEx in advance on all devices and recommend to your meeting attendees to do the same.  This will save time whilst people setup when the meeting has already started.  It only takes 10 minutes to get used to WebEx.
  3. Send out a reminder before the meeting happens if people are unfamiliar with the technology advising them that if they don’t have a microphone on their PC to use the WebEx app for making the call.

Of course you can also use it for family video gatherings too!

Visit the WebEx website here

Teams

Microsoft Teams is the all-encompassing team collaboration platform which is great for when working with remote teams or working from home.  The software enables you to collect information and work together in a clean, familiar Office 365 environment.  You can set up video calls and chats and share documents and files with ease.

The only issue we have found with Teams is that it’s a little clunky when inviting people in from outside your organisation into a meeting.  For this reason, it’s why we use Zoom.  You will also need an Office 365 subscription too to use it too.  If you’re working from home and need to work with your team remotely – go for it!  This solution is better suited to those working in business as it’s more difficult to invite third party (ie families into the ‘meeting’).

Visit Office 365 here

Some More Video Conferencing Software Options

If you don’t like the thought of these then we recommend checking out Blue Jeans which has a nice friendly interface, Go to MeetingFaceTime and Google Hangouts.  Whichever tool you choose though, stick with it so that people aren’t jumping around between platforms.

We hope this helps give you some ideas in which tools to use for video conferencing.  Our recommendation for your video conferencing software would be to continue using Zoom if you already have it but to enable the security features as a minimum outlined if you are the host.

If information surrounding security and Zoom changes we will advise accordingly.

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