How to Help Ensure Your Next Video Chat Won’t Be Hacked

Recent developments that make it easier — and less stressful — to host safe video chats via Zoom or Skype

Image by Gracini Studios from Pixabay.

Group video chat platform Zoom has had phenomenal success with its free version, an easy-to-use alternative to Skype, at a time when people worldwide have been forced into social isolation due to coronavirus. As with most upstarts, however, Zoom has also faced significant criticism for its shortcomings related to security. Stories of Zoom group chats being infiltrated by trolls determined to wreak havoc can be found all over the internet. A current search for “Zoom security issues” brings up articles on NPR.com, TechCrunch, and other sites and in the Washington Post and other publications. But Zoom is responding in smart ways, most notably by turning on their waiting room feature by default, forcing anyone who wants to join a Zoom meeting to be accepted by the event host first.

If you plan to continue using Zoom, you can do many things to help keep your video chats on this platform safe from hackers. The Forbes article “Use Zoom? Here are 7 Essential Steps You Can Take to Secure It” lists numerous expert tips, including:

  • Don’t use your personal meeting ID. Instead, use the random ID generated by Zoom for your meeting.
  • Never share your meeting ID or password on a public forum such as Facebook.
  • Require participants to use the meeting password.
  • Set screen sharing to “host only.”

If you remain hesitant to use Zoom, however, you have options, including a fresh take from an old-timer in the video chat space.

New, simple, and free: Skype’s Meet Now

In “Skype rolls out ‘Meet Now’ calls that don’t need a signup or installation,” Engadget reveals how Skype is trying to win back the market share they’ve suddenly lost to Zoom, a much simpler platform. According to Microsoft, which launched Skype way back in 2003, the Meet Now feature allows Skype users to simply share a unique link to invite multiple people to join a call. Participants don’t need to be on Skype to participate, and even the host doesn’t need to have Skype installed.

Easier for the elderly

Book publishing guru Jane Friedman discusses another Zoom option, subscription-based OneClick.chat, in a recent issue of her Electric Speed newsletter. Currently free to use through June 1, OneClick.chat allows you to host chats of up to 12 participants. The platform is so simple it’s in a partnership to pilot its use with elderly users to help combat loneliness and isolation among those suffering from conditions such as depression or Alzheimer’s disease. As with Skype’s Meet Now, no downloads are necessary for OneClick.chat’s browser-based platform.

Other options

If you’re an iOS user, you’re likely familiar with FaceTime, a long-time favorite for group video chats among Apple adopters. If your focus is on group chats for your business, Microsoft Teams might be your best option, while users of Google’s G Suite might opt for Google’s Hangouts Meet.

Suffice to say if you want to host or join video group chats with family, friends, coworkers, or clients, you have many options. Check out the platform that seems best for you — and pay attention to any extra steps you can take to help ensure your next video chat isn’t interrupted by an unwanted interloper.

I write fiction, poetry, and nonfiction when I’m not working as a copy editor. Author of the novel One Sister’s Song.

Written by

Bylines in Publishers Weekly, the Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, others. One Sister’s Song (novel). Not Nearly Everything You Need to Know About Writing (ebook).

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store