Harden Your Zoom Settings to Protect Your Privacy and Avoid Trolls

From EFF.org 

UPDATE 4/10: We have edited this post to add details about Zoom’s new security features and defaults.

Whether you are on Zoom because your employer or school requires it or you just downloaded it to stay in touch with friends and family, people have rushed to the video chat platform in the wake of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders—and journalists, researchers, and regulators have noticed its many security and privacy problems. Zoom has responded with a surprisingly good plan for next steps, but talk is cheap. Zoom will have to follow through on its security and privacy promises if it wants to regain users’ trust.

In the meantime, take these steps to harden your Zoom privacy settings and protect your meetings from “Zoombombing” trolls. The settings below are all separate, which means you don’t need to change them all, and you don’t need to change them in any particular order. Consider which settings make sense for you and the groups you communicate with, and do your best to make sure meeting organizers and participants are on the same page about settings and shared expectations.

Privacy Settings

Make Sure Chat Auto-Saving Is Off

In your Zoom account settings under In Meeting (Basic), make sure Auto saving chats is toggled off to the left.

The autosave chats setting toggled off to the left

Make Sure “Attention Tracking” Is Off

In your Zoom account settings under In Meeting (Advanced), make sure Attention tracking is toggled off to the left.

The attention tracking setting toggled off to the left

Use a Virtual Background

The space you’re in during a call can expose a lot of information about where you live, your habits, and your hobbies. If you’re uncomfortable having your living space in the background of your calls, set a virtual background. From the zoom.us menu in the top right corner of your screen while using Zoom, navigate to Preferences and then Virtual backgrounds.

Best Practices for Avoiding Trolls

With Zoom now more widely used than ever, the mechanics of its public meeting IDs have allowed bad actors to invade people’s meetings with harassment, slurs, and disturbing images. When you host a meeting, consider taking the steps below to protect yourself and your participants from this “Zoombombing.”

Bad actors can find your meeting in one of two ways: they can cycle through random meeting IDs until they find an active one, or they can take advantage of meeting links and invites that have been posted in public places, like Facebook groups, Twitter, or personal websites. So, protecting yourself boils down to controlling who can enter your meeting, and keeping your meeting IDs private.

Keep the Meeting ID Private

Whenever possible, do not post the link to your meeting or the meeting ID publicly. Send it directly to trusted people and groups instead. 

Set a Meeting Password, and Carefully Inspect the Meeting Link

After Zoom's most recent update, meeting passwords are now on by default for free Basic and single licensed Pro accounts, as well as education accounts.

BEWARE, however, that Zoom passwords can behave in unexpected ways. If you use the “Copy Invitation” functionality to copy the meeting link and send it to your participants, that link might include your meeting password. Look out for an unusually long URL with a question mark in it, which indicates it includes your meeting password.

If you plan to send the meeting link directly to trusted participants, having the password included in the link will be no problem. But if you want to post the meeting link in a Facebook group, on Twitter, or in another public space, then it means the password itself will also be public. If you need to publicize your event online, consider posting only the meeting ID, and then separately sending the password to vetted participants shortly before the meeting begins.

To find the password settings, go to your Zoom account settings under Schedule Meeting. Make sure Require a password when scheduling new meetings is toggled on to the right. You’ll find additional password options in this area of the settings as well.

Several password settings toggled on to the right

You can also set a password when scheduling a meeting from the Zoom desktop app by checking the “Require meeting pass” checkbox.

Lock Down Screen Sharing

In your Zoom account settings under In Meeting (Basic), set Screen sharing to Host Only. That means that, when you are hosting a meeting, only you and no other meeting participants will be able to share their screen.

The screensharing setting set to host only

Depending on the calls you plan to host, you can also turn screen sharing off entirely by toggling it off to the left.

Use Waiting Rooms to Approve Participants

After Zoom's most recent update, waiting rooms are now enabled by default for free Basic and single licensed Pro accounts, as well as education accounts. A waiting room allows hosts to screen new participants before letting them join, which can help prevent disruptions or unexpected participants.

To find this setting, go to your Zoom account settings under In Meeting (Advanced). Make sure Waiting room is toggled on to the right.

The waiting room setting toggled on to the right

Lock the Meeting

When you are actively in a meeting and all your expected participants have arrived, you can "lock" the meeting to prevent anyone else from joining. Click Participants at the bottom of the Zoom window, and select Lock Meeting.

Use the Security Icon Options

Another way to access many of the settings described above is to use the Security icon that appears at the bottom of the screen when you are hosting a Zoom call. This button quickly takes you to settings like locking the meeting, enabling a waiting room, and restricting call participants’ ability to share their screens. Zoom’s announcement describes this feature in more detail.

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Netwire - Network Administrators Coding of Ethernet cables

The information listed here is to assist Network Administrators in the color coding of Ethernet cables. Please be aware that modifying Ethernet cables improperly may cause loss of network connectivity. Use this information at your own risk, and insure all connectors and cables are modified in accordance with standards. Terminal Madness cannot be held liable for the use of this information in whole or in part.

T-568A Straight-Through Ethernet Cable


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The TIA/EIA 568-A standard which was ratified in 1995, was replaced by the TIA/EIA 568-B standard in 2002 and has been updated since. Both standards define the T-568A and T-568B pin-outs for using Unshielded Twisted Pair cable and RJ-45 connectors for Ethernet connectivity. The standards and pin-out specification appear to be related and interchangeable, but are not the same and should not be used interchangeably.

T-568B Straight-Through Ethernet Cable

ethcable568b

Both the T-568A and the T-568B standard Straight-Through cables are used most often as patch cords for your Ethernet connections. If you require a cable to connect two Ethernet devices directly together without a hub or when you connect two hubs together, you will need to use a Crossover cable instead.

RJ-45 Crossover Ethernet Cable

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A good way of remembering how to wire a Crossover Ethernet cable is to wire one end using the T-568A standard and the other end using the T-568B standard. Another way of remembering the color coding is to simply switch the Green set of wires in place with the Orange set of wires. Specifically, switch the solid Green (G) with the solid Orange, and switch the green/white with the orange/white.

Ethernet Cable Instructions:

  1. Pull the cable off the reel to the desired length and cut. If you are pulling cables through holes, its easier to attach the RJ-45 plugs after the cable is pulled. The total length of wire segments between a PC and a hub or between two PC's cannot exceed 100 Meters (328 feet) for 100BASE-TX and 300 Meters for 10BASE-T.
  2. Start on one end and strip the cable jacket off (about 1") using a stripper or a knife. Be extra careful not to nick the wires, otherwise you will need to start over.
  3. Spread, untwist the pairs, and arrange the wires in the order of the desired cable end. Flatten the end between your thumb and forefinger. Trim the ends of the wires so they are even with one another, leaving only 1/2" in wire length. If it is longer than 1/2" it will be out-of-spec and susceptible to crosstalk. Flatten and insure there are no spaces between wires.
  4. Hold the RJ-45 plug with the clip facing down or away from you. Push the wires firmly into the plug. Inspect each wire is flat even at the front of the plug. Check the order of the wires. Double check again. Check that the jacket is fitted right against the stop of the plug. Carefully hold the wire and firmly crimp the RJ-45 with the crimper.
  5. Check the color orientation, check that the crimped connection is not about to come apart, and check to see if the wires are flat against the front of the plug. If even one of these are incorrect, you will have to start over. Test the Ethernet cable.


Ethernet Cable Tips

A straight-thru cable has identical ends.
A crossover cable has different ends.
A straight-thru is used as a patch cord in Ethernet connections.
A crossover is used to connect two Ethernet devices without a hub or for connecting two hubs.
A crossover has one end with the Orange set of wires switched with the Green set.
Odd numbered pins are always striped, even numbered pins are always solid colored.
Looking at the RJ-45 with the clip facing away from you, Brown is always on the right, and pin 1 is on the left.
No more than 1/2" of the Ethernet cable should be untwisted otherwise it will be susceptible to crosstalk.
Do not deform, do not bend, do not stretch, do not staple, do not run parallel with power cables, and do not run Ethernet cables near noise inducing components.

Basic Theory

ethcable03

By looking at a T-568A UTP Ethernet straight-thru cable and an Ethernet crossover cable with a T-568B end, we see that the TX (transmitter) pins are connected to the corresponding RX (receiver) pins, plus to plus and minus to minus. You can also see that both the blue and brown wire pairs on pins 4, 5, 7, and 8 are not used in either standard. What you may not realize is that, these same pins 4, 5, 7, and 8 are not used or required in 100BASE-TX as well. So why bother using these wires, well for one thing its simply easier to make a connection with all the wires grouped together. Otherwise you'll be spending time trying to fit those tiny little wires into each of the corresponding holes in the RJ-45 connector. 

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