If someone told you a few years ago that we’d be in a lockdown, where everyone around the world who is capable of working remotely is being asked to do so, you might have called them crazy. Well, welcome to 2020 and enter the hero, ZOOM.

We are at a defining moment in the human race right now with a global pandemic that has caught everyone unawares, forcing us to change lifestyles, working habits, relationships, and ways we communicate. We have been attending classes, meeting our colleagues and even having party all via Zoom. Statistically, ZOOM is seeing over 200 million daily participants as of March this year and its market valley has doubled in the past few months.

So what is Zoom and how does it work?

ZOOM is the cloud-based video conference service that everyone is using right now. It was first founded almost ten years ago and launched soon after. The popularity of it hasn’t really exploded until recently though as most companies have started remote working and have seen the value in it. It allows people to keep in touch during these trying times while folks keep to themselves in lockdown, in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

ZOOM has a couple of different plans, where people would need to either pick the free tier which limits group sessions to 40 minutes but has unlimited one-on-one meetings. The paid plans start at around $15 per month and range from Pro to Enterprise. There is a desktop app for Windows and MacOS, as well as a mobile app for Android and iOS. You can also sign in using your ZOOM account, Google or Facebook too.

You can start meetings through ZOOM and you will be able to connect up to 1,000 participants with the right plan, and can host and join meetings, mute and unmute microphones, start cloud recordings, have chats in-meeting and so much more.

Some creative functions…

You are probably spending a lot more time in the program now than ever before because COVID-19, and nobody would blame you. In doing so, you may need a couple of best practice tips in order to make sure that you are using it as efficiently as possible. Here are some of the creative functions of Zoom to make sure that everything you do on ZOOM is purposeful and helps you structure your day.

You can try a waiting room. ZOOM has the added advantage of allowing you to sit in a waiting room in anticipation for your next meeting. This lets you focus completely on other things that you need to do and allow you to get into the meeting when the other person is ready. As the host, you have the choice to disable ‘Join before Host’ for you to confirm everyone’s identity before allowing them in the meeting.

So you are having a really important meeting, huh? With Zoom, you are able to record meetings for you to come back and watch it later when needed. You can guarantee you will never miss a single detail. What’s better is that you can easily share the recordings with the absentees.

Zoom also has the function of attention tracking. It depends on how you run your business, but attention tracking will allow you to know if one of the people attending your ZOOM meeting has switched to another window or put another window in front of ZOOM. It is helpful when you need complete focus in a meeting. An application would be for schools when regular lessons are held. Students would not be as tempted to browse other sites during classes this way.

Some of us really do not care enough to clean our rooms. Zoom gets it and that is why it supports virtual background. You can hide the food packages, stuffed animals, family pictures or anything else that you want to keep personal or are embarrassed about during your meetings.

These explained Zoom’s ridiculous popularity despite the presence of similar softwares.

The potential risks…

Is Zoom really that much of a blessing? Security experts have highlighted a few details about Zoom that you should be aware of. Some government institutions and private enterprises are switching to other options. There are petitions among students in hopes to convince their schools to opt for alternatives. NASA and SpaceX even banned employees from downloading Zoom to stop confidentiality from leaking. Why is that?

Earlier in the adoption of Zoom, there were a number of organised cyberattack cases. These ‘ZOOM bombers’ were jumping into meetings, spreading misinformation, scribbling over screens and more. Since then, ZOOM has released a security update in response but that is not the end of it.

Another potential problem that was highlighted, was ZOOM’s privacy policy which allowed ZOOM to do whatever they wanted with any users’ personal data. This has also since been addressed though, but more and more holes in security are being found out as time goes on. Experts in internet security stated Zoom would share your personal information with Facebook and expose anonymous users by comparison with LinkedIn. Over 350 users’ account information, including email address, password, meeting ID, name of host and even encryption key were stolen and sold on Dark Web.

Although Zoom claimed itself to have a secure end-to-end encryption, sceptics remained doubtful as such end-to-end encryption happens between the users and Zoom’s server instead of within users to users. Zoom responded with a blog, emphasising their encryption is safe enough that all content will not be unencrypted until it reaches the end user.

The CEO of Zoom, Eric S. Yuan, has pledged to users that all of these issues that continue to arise will be fixed in 3 months, and the team is ‘committed to dedicating the resources needed to better identify, address, and fix issues proactively.’  

Considering the sheer volume of people using the program right now, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Keep your wits about you, use secure passwords and do not hand any of your information out to anyone. If you are the host, set a password for each meeting, only allow them to join after you and lock the meeting after everyone is in. Certain technological giants are also suggesting that using the browser to open up a meeting may be more secure than the desktop software too.

Given the current situation with coronavirus, we have no choice but to depend on software like Zoom. Whether Zoom is a devil in disguise or not, all we can do is to remain critical and do whatever we can to protect our privacy.