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Zoom Wisely

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The coronavirus pandemic and social distancing measures have spurred many attorneys to explore remote work and videoconferencing, some for the first time.  These work style choices have repercussions for the unwary.  The attorneys in our office are fielding many questions about how to remain ethical and compliant.

For videoconferencing with colleagues, clients, opposing parties, and even judges, some attorneys and other professionals are turning to Zoom.  Zoom is a flexible, easy-to-use tool for videoconferencing that is available across multiple computing platforms and operating systems, and it has become quite popular in recent weeks.  It supports video as well as audio-only connections, and has useful options like allowing screen sharing, whiteboarding, file transfers, and breakout rooms for different participants (a nice option for mediators).

The bells and whistles combine to make Zoom very appealing in these challenging times.  However, it’s important to know your technology and watch for potential compliance traps and pitfalls.  For attorneys, there are risks of leaking attorney-client privileged or confidential information.  For all professionals, there are security risks that can be disruptive to relationships and business.

For example, screen sharing can be useful, but we recommend that you consider changing the default settings before scheduling a Zoom meeting.  The default allows all participants to screen share.  That means anyone can share their screen with confidential, privileged, or even inappropriate content.  You can change the default to allow screen sharing only for the conference host.

You should also review Zoom’s options for password-protecting and locking your meetings to prevent uninvited guests, and for removing unwanted or disruptive participants.  As this recent article reports, Zoom meetings across the country are being “crashed” by uninvited and unwelcome hijackers engaged in “Zoom bombing.”  It might sound far-fetched, but it is happening and it only takes a few minutes to change your settings and minimize the security risks.

Another important aspect of Zoom is that it collects a lot of data during videoconferences, and it allows the host of the videoconference to record and monitor more than the other participants might realize.  For example, participants have the option of sending private messages to each other during the meeting.  If the host chooses to record a Zoom meeting to his/her local drive and participates in a private chat with another participant, then the private chat exchange will be saved to the minutes folder for that meeting. If that minutes folder is not secured, then anyone with access to that folder will see what should have been a private chat.

Check out some additional, easy Zoom security tips in this PC Magazine article.

As we adjust to the new normal of remote work and videoconferencing, it is inevitable that we’ll encounter these kinds of challenges.  Do your research, stay abreast of the news, and use the available measures to control risk for yourself and your clients as much as possible.

Stay safe, and Zoom wisely.