Still ‘Zooming’ in From Home? Here’s How to Enable Encryption

9 Nov

When the world retreated and people started working from home at the beginning of 2020, data encryption and security were not yet top of mind for everyone. As face-to-face meetings migrated to remote meetings and new remote working software applications became a necessity, ‘Zoom’ was suddenly one of the new buzz words.

This still relatively unknown video conferencing service was being used by everyone, from the executive businessman to the teen connecting with friends, family birthday celebrations to corporate workshops. When it emerged that Zoom had no end-to-end encryption putting users’ data at risk, it seemed as if the world held its breath. Seemingly unfazed, Zoom responded by addressing the security concerns with a new feature: end-to-end encryption.

the zoom end-to-end encryption debacle

In the early days of lockdown as the security concerns gained momentum on social media, Zoom claimed to offer end-to-end encryption, but that turned out to be not entirely true. In reality, Zoom only offered TLS encryption which is Transport Layer Security.

In short, data encryption is offered between individual users and service providers. It does not guarantee that communication directly between users of the system is encrypted. Which means that Zoom could have chosen to access user data and could also expose it to a third party…if they wanted to.

End-to-end encryption differs in that it encrypts data at the source device. The data remains encrypted while it is sent through the servers and is only ever decrypted when it reaches the recipient’s device.

how to activate end-to-end encryption on zoom

With Zoom offering full end-to-end encryption, it makes sense to implement the service so that you too can benefit from a security standpoint. How you activate the service will be determined by whether you are an individual user or the admin of a group. Here’s what to do.

  • Sign into Zoom using the Zoom web portal
  • Click “settings” in the navigation menu and then click on “meeting”
  • In the “security” tab, toggle the “allow use of end-to-end encryption” to “on”
  • Verify your choice by clicking “turn on”

If you are unable to do this because the options appear grey, this typically indicates that the admin of your group has disabled the feature.

Admins of groups or overseers of accounts with many users need to follow the same steps as above, except you will notice that there are extra options that allow you to lock all users’ accounts under the settings that you choose.

what you need to know about zoom end-to-end encryption nuisances

It’s not all rainbows and butterflies with Zoom’s end-to-end encryption. Unfortunately, there are a few inconveniences that you need to be aware of. Here’s what you need to know.

  • End-to-end encryption features will only work if everyone on your call has the feature enabled.
  • All call participants must call from the Zoom mobile app or Zoom desktop not from a Zoom Room or a telephone.
  • End-to-end encryption is not compatible with certain features including live transcription, breakout rooms, cloud recording, one-on-one chat, polling, and meeting reactions.
  • No one can join the meeting before the host does when end-to-end encryption is being used.

keep zooming, but more securely

While it might seem like the inconveniences are a bit of hack, having the added security is really worth the while, especially for sensitive conversations and meetings. Of course, you still need to ensure that your device is never compromised, so the responsibility of true security for your data and sensitive information really does lie with you and how you backup your data.

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