Zoom: Privacy Considerations

As a tool, Zoom is HIPAA-compliant; but your responsible usage is the most important factor in keeping data secure.  Here are some important privacy considerations when using Zoom.

Note: To learn more about Zoom and your own data, read Zoom: Access to University Data

Do you interact with Protected Health Information?

Protected Health Information (PHI) is any health information that can identify an individual, or is derived from identifiable information.  If you interact with PHI as part of your University role, you will be using a specific "Health Care Component" (HCC) version of Zoom.  

Learn more about the differences between HCC and non-HCC accounts

Even if you do not interact with PHI, it is still important to maintain privacy while using Zoom. 

Secure your physical space

  • Use Zoom in a secure area where other people cannot hear your conversations.
  • Before a Zoom meeting, check what is visible in the area around you. This could include documents on your desk or items behind you. Clear anything that you wouldn't want the people in your Zoom meeting to see.

Secure your virtual space

  • Close all other windows and browser tabs before you begin your meeting, so that only the window you want to share is visible
  • Turn off email and chat room notifications, so that they do not appear while you are sharing your screen 
  • Mute your mic and turn your video off - you can turn those on when you are ready to start.

Keep your personal meeting ID secret

You may have read tips about how to make it easier for people to find your personal meeting ID. Unfortunately, this also makes it easier for unwanted participants to find it, kind of like using your birthday as your password (which is a very bad idea). Do not tell anyone your personal meeting ID.

Set up a meeting password

While scheduling a meeting, under Meeting Options, check Require Meeting Password. Then specify a strong password. Participants will be asked for this password in order to join your meeting.

Enable the Waiting Room Feature

The Waiting Room lets the host control when each participant joins the meeting. As the meeting host, you can admit attendees one by one, or hold all attendees in the waiting room and admit them all at once. This requires more work by the host, but only allows participants to join if you specifically admit them.

While in your meeting,

  1. Click on Security in the Zoom meeting toolbar
  2. From the list that appears, click Enable waiting room

Disable the waiting room in the meeting following these same steps.

See Zoom's Waiting Room help page for more information.

Disable "Join Before Host"

The "join before host" option lets others begin a meeting without you if you are not available to start the meeting. However, with this option enabled, the first person who joins the meeting will automatically be made the host and will have full control over the meeting.If you are scheduling a meeting where sensitive information will be discussed, it's best to leave Enable join before host (found in the Meeting Options section while scheduling a meeting) turned OFF. See Zoom's Join Before Host help page for more information.

As an alternative, you can assign an Alternative Host.

It is still possible for a meeting to start with you (the host) even with Join Before Host disabled. If you have given someone Scheduling Privilege (which allows them to schedule meetings on your behalf), when that person joins a meeting before you, the meeting will start and they will be made the host. After you join, the role of Host can be reassigned to you.

Disable In-Meeting Chat

  1. Click on Security in the Zoom meeting toolbar
  2. From the list that appears, under Allow participants to, click Chat to uncheck the Chat option

Limit Sharing to the Host

While in your meeting,

  • Option 1
    1. Click the up-arrow next to Share Screen.
    2. Select Advanced Sharing Options.
    3. Under Who can share, click Only Host.
  • Option 2
    1. Click on Security in the Zoom meeting toolbar
    2. From the list that appears, under Allow participants to, click Share Screen to uncheck the Share Screen option

This won't be appropriate when multiple participants will need to share and collaborate, but setting this restriction will prevent unwanted guests from interrupting the meeting by taking over the screen.

Remove a Participant from a Zoom Meeting or Webinar

If the Participants panel is not visible, click Participants at the bottom of the Zoom window. If an unwanted attendee has joined:

  1. Next to the person you want to remove, click More.
  2. From the list that appears, click Remove.

Lock Your Session

The Zoom Host Controls allow the host or co-host to lock the meeting. Once all your attendees have joined,

  1. Click Security in the Zoom meeting toolbar
  2. From the list that appears, click Lock Meeting.

Unlock the meeting following these same steps.

When a meeting is locked, no one can join, and you (the host or co-host) will NOT be alerted if anyone tries to join, so don't lock the meeting until everyone has joined.

Note: If one of your participants leaves the meeting (e.g., their internet connection fails) after you have locked the meeting, they will not be able to rejoin unless you unlock the meeting.