June 29, 2020 6 minutes to read ∙ 1400 words

Ask Techie: How Do I Set a Virtual Background Picture in Zoom?

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Welcome to the latest installment of our monthly Q&A column, where a panel of experts answers your questions about using technology in your law practice.

This month we answer readers’ questions about how to set a virtual background picture in Zoom, whether it’s safe to bring your phone to public protests, and what are the warning signs of social engineering scams.

Q: How Do I Set a Virtual Background in ZOOM?

A: Not all of us have clean houses or good locations to use as a background in Zoom meetings. Fortunately, Zoom provides the ability to mask whatever your location looks like with a virtual background. Here’s how:

On Your Computer

The following instructions are for a Mac; the process is similar in Windows:

  1. Open the Zoom app on your Mac. On the Mac you do not need to enter a Zoom meeting.
  2. Choose Settings (the gear icon in the top right corner of the screen).
  3. Choose Virtual Background from the sidebar.
  4. Select the image you want to use as a background. You can choose from those provided by Zoom or add any picture you want by clicking on the + that appears on the right side of the Settings window. This opens a Finder window, and you can select the image you want from any that you have available on your computer.
  5. Zoom registers your selection and shows you a picture of the virtual background that will appear on the screen. It adds any images you select to its own library of choices on your computer for you to use in Zoom meetings.
  6. Close the Settings window. You did it!
  7. You can change the virtual background at any time. If you want to revert to no virtual background, follow the same process but select “None,” which should be the first choice available to you (the black screen with “None” displayed).

On Your iPad

The process is similar on your iPad, but note that the process is unique to each device, so you must go through the steps for each device you use for Zoom. Additionally, images you add on one device do not appear as options on your other devices.

  1. Sign in to the Zoom mobile app.
  2. Either join a Zoom meeting or start one. You do not need anyone else to attend, but you must have a meeting going.
  3. While in a Zoom meeting, tap More in the controls. You will find it in the lower right corner of your display marked by three dots “…”.
  4. Tap Virtual Background.
  5. Choose from the available backgrounds or tap the “+” to add new backgrounds. Any picture that you have on your iPad can become the new virtual background.
  6. Tap Close after selecting the background to return to the meeting. The image you selected becomes the default until you change the image.

Techie: Jeffrey Allen, GPSolo eReport Editor-in-Chief Emeritus and Senior Technology Editor, Graves & Allen, jallenlawtek@aol.com.

Q: Is It Safe to Carry My Phone When I’m Participating in a Public Protest?

A: As big a fan of tech as I am, I’m also very aware of the risks that can come from technology. For attorneys participating in protests, the risks can be even greater, so it’s important to take precautions to protect yourself and any client information you may have on you. Most of these tips I picked up working as a legal observer at protests in the past. First off, if you have separate work and personal phones (or other smart devices), leave the work phone at home. Assuming that you don’t have separate phones, it’s okay to take your phone with you, but you’ll want to take a few precautions:

  1. Back up any client information (text messages, documents, photographs, etc.) on a separate server.
  2. Turn off biometric (face or fingerprint) access to your phone; phone entry should be by passcode only, and your phone should lock automatically.
  3. Most modern phones have a security feature that will wipe all data from your phone if someone gets the passcode wrong too many times. Unless you are willing to risk your data being deleted, turn off that feature.
  4. Download a secure messaging app for all protest-related communications. Signal is the most popular one.
  5. If you intend to take photos or videos of the protest, whether for personal use or as a legal observer, have your phone set up to automatically upload those images to a separate cloud-based server (most phones do this automatically either to Google Drive or the Apple iCloud).
  6. Last but not least, don’t rely solely on technology. To be prepared for the worst, you should write the phone number of an attorney you can depend on (or a legal hotline set up for the protest) on your skin in permanent marker. Don’t just save the number in your phone.

Techie: Jordan L. Couch, GPSolo eReport Contributing Technology Editor, Palace Law, jordan@palacelaw.com.

Q: What Is Social Engineering, and What Are Its Warning Signs?

A: Social engineers manipulate you into divulging passwords, compromising security and revealing confidential information. Your colleagues and you should know the tactics that cyber criminals use to swindle you.

Social engineers will:

  • Call you on the phone.
  • Send you e-mails.
  • Show up in your web searches.
  • Send you text messages.
  • Follow you into your building.

In doing so, they impersonate people and companies you know.

Social engineers use time-tested techniques to deceive you in order to steal information and money. Here are some common examples:

1. “We need to verify your Internet account.”

Whether you receive the request by phone or e-mail, don’t verify your account. Instead, if you really think this might be a legitimate request from your Internet service provider, look up the company contact information yourself and call or e-mail them. Don’t use the number or link from the request itself.

2. “Your password must be reset due to a recent incident. Click here to reset it.”

Basic rule: Don’t click any link unless you are sure it is legitimate. How do you know if it is real? Hover over the link to see where it really points to. Don’t click if you have any doubt at all. And don’t click unless you actually have a strong reason to do so. If you are still tempted to click, instead enter the familiar, safe website name in your browser and look for the information there.

3. “Would you hold the door for me?”

Someone you don’t know is holding a package and wants help getting through the door of your card-controlled building. Politely offer some alternative, but don’t let them “tailgate” you through the door. The same goes for: “I forgot my card.”

4. “Please update your US Bank account information here.”

The e-mail is apparently from your bank, a delivery service, or another company where you actually have an account. If you go to the update webpage, it looks exactly like the real website. Don’t go there! If you believe the request might be legitimate, use the company contact information you already have to contact the company.

Here are more examples of social engineering that arrive by e-mail, phone call, or text message:

  • “Your mailbox size has reached 1978.08 MB. Please upgrade your e-mail quota. [Click Here]”
  • “There is a new voice-mail in mailbox 1178. [Link]” This e-mail displays the sender e-mail address and signature block of someone you know.
  • “Your computer has been hacked. We need to fix this right away. Go to our support website at www.FakeTechSupport.com.”
  • “Dear Valued Customer, You have 1 new ALERT message. Please log in to your Wells Fargo Online Account and visit the Message Center to read the message. [Link]”
  • “[Name you know] shared a new document with you that needs your attention in OneDrive. [Link to OneDrive] Thank you, OneDrive Team.” The sender’s e-mail address belongs to someone you know.

Each of these messages is fraudulent!

Social engineering con artists find that it is easier to deceive an individual than to hack into an office network electronically. Their attacks are on the increase.

Educate the people you work with about the ways they can be tricked.

Techie: Wells H. Anderson, JD, GPSolo eReport Contributing Technology Editor, SecureMyFirm, 952/922-1120, and Active Practice LLC, 952/922-1727.

What’s YOUR Question?

If you have a technology question, please forward it to Managing Editor Rob Salkin (robert.salkin@americanbar.org) at your earliest convenience. Our response team selects the questions for response and publication. Our regular response team includes Jeffrey Allen, Wells H. Anderson, Jordan L. Couch, Ashley Hallene, Al Harrison, and Patrick Palace. We publish submitted questions anonymously, just in case you do not want someone else to know you asked the question.

Please send in your questions today!

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Published in GPSolo eReport, Volume 9, Number 11, June 2020. © 2020 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association or the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.