What is zoom-bombing
Since Covid-19 has forced social distancing measures more and more of us are using video conference platforms to stay connected to our loved ones, work colleagues, university, churches, families and friends. Zoom is just one of the increasingly popular video conferencing apps designed to keep us connected, while practicing social distancing.
Trolls, seeing the opportunity to disrupt students, workers, and the like have been zoom-bombing or gate-crashing our meetings. Zoom bombing is the name given to gate-crashing Zoom meetings, it’s now a thing! Zoom has referred to trolls as “party crashers”, which some critics have taken as a sign the company is downplaying the attacks.
As a result, people from all spheres have reported uninvited guests. Zoom bombing our online meetings with their rascist, anti-gay, anti-semitic, and threatening comments. Some even go as far as to show pornographic and violent material.
It’s been called a “serious new cyber threat” by 7 News and people are keen to know how to prevent zoom bombing.
What’s been happening?
An example of Zoom-bombing occurring is during WFH Happy Hour, hosted by The Verge reporter Casey Newton and Hunter Walk, a daily public Zoom call, as it was suddenly hit with disturbing sexual imagery. They had to end the call rather that subject viewers to the horrifying clips, as the perpetrator continued to re-enter the call under a new name.
Another example is of Ceri Weber who was completing her doctoral degree at Duke University. During her video presentation, the final step to her degree, voices and echoes began intercepting, with a parroting of her words. Britney Spears music, and shouts of “shut up” and then threats of rape, all while “mute all” was selected in the settings.
There are many more examples of Zoom-bombing including Ceri Weber’s story.
As we can see Zoom-bombing is a “serious new cyber threat” and one that we can’t ignore, especially during these times of self- isolation and even beyond, as we always look for ways to connect long distance. Importantly, we need to safeguard against trolls, and these cyber-bullies by educating ourselves on how to prevent our Zoom meeting being Zoom-bombed.
A Guide: How to prevent Zoom Bombing
A couple of reminders on using Zoom to host public events:
Firstly, when you share your meeting link on social media or other public forums, that makes your event … extremely public. ANYONE with the link can join your meeting.
Secondly, avoid using your Personal Meeting ID (PMI) to host public events. Your PMI is basically one continuous meeting and you don’t want trolls zoom-bombing your personal virtual space after the party’s over.
Thirdly, take a look at Zoom’s settings and features so you can understand how to protect your virtual space. For instance, The Waiting Room is a helpful feature for hosts to control who comes and goes.
The Waiting Room feature is one of the most popular security aspects of Zoom meetings. For more information on its use.
Manage screen sharing
If you are the host of a Zoom party, you don’t want to give up control of your screen. In order to protect against uninvited guests taking control of the screen and sharing the unwanted content within your group.
How to prevent Zoom Bombing step by step
1. before the meeting and during the meeting in the host control bar (see below) — set so that you’re the only one who can screen-share. This prevents participants from screen sharing during a call, using the host controls at the bottom, click the arrow next to Share Screen and then Advanced Sharing Options.
2. Under “Who can share?” choose “Only Host” and close the window. You can also lock the Screen Share by default for all your meetings in your web settings. This is highly recommended!
Manage your participants
Other ways to help secure your Zoom party
Allow only signed-in users to join: If someone tries to join your event and isn’t logged into Zoom with the email they were invited through, they will receive this message:
This is very useful in managing your guest list, inviting only those you want at your event —
Lock the meeting:
You can lock a Zoom Meeting that’s already started, no new participants can join, even if they have the meeting ID and password (if you have required one). It’s always smart to lock your front door, even when you’re inside the house!
In the meeting, click Participants at the bottom of your Zoom window. In the Participants pop-up, click the button that says Lock Meeting.
Set up your own two-factor authentication:
You don’t have to share the actual meeting link! Generate a random Meeting ID when scheduling your event and require a password to join. Then you can share that Meeting ID on Twitter but only send the password to join via DM.
Remove unwanted or disruptive participants:
From that Participants menu, you can mouse over a participant’s name, and several options will appear, including Remove. Click that to kick someone out of the meeting.
Allow removed participants to rejoin:
When you do remove someone, they can’t rejoin the meeting. But you can toggle your settings to allow removed participants to rejoin, in case you boot the wrong person.
Put ‘em on hold:
You can put everyone else on hold, and the attendees’ video and audio connections will be disabled momentarily. Click on someone’s video thumbnail and select Start Attendee On Hold to activate this feature. Click Take Off Hold in the Participants list when you’re ready to have them back.
Hosts can turn someone’s video off. This will allow hosts to block unwanted, distracting, or inappropriate gestures on video or for that time your friend’s inside pocket is the star of the show.
Hosts can mute/unmute individual participants or all of them at once. Hosts can block unwanted, distracting, or inappropriate noise from other participants. You can also enable Mute Upon Entry in your settings to keep the noise down in large meetings.
Turn off file transfer:
In-meeting file transfer allows people to share files through the in-meeting chat. Toggle this off to keep the chat from getting bombarded with unsolicited pics, GIFs, memes, and other content.
Turn off annotation:
You and your attendees can doodle and mark up content together using annotations during screen share. You can disable the annotation feature in your Zoom settings to prevent people from writing all over the screens.
Disable private chat:
Zoom has in-meeting chat for everyone or participants can message each other privately. Restrict participants’ ability to chat amongst one another while your event is going on and cut back on distractions. This is really to prevent anyone from getting unwanted messages during the meeting.
Conclusion on how to prevent Zoom bombing
This article outlines a lot of basic steps that people can take to avoid their next video call being Zoom Bombed.
In most case it’s a simple matter of turning on security features that already exist plus some common sense.