Due to the current worldwide situation, teams across the world have been working from home and using video conferencing as a means of staying in touch. Unfortunately, several reports have now claimed saboteurs - aka trolls - are disrupting Zoom meetings and classes as part of a new trend dubbed Zoom bombing. Here's everything you need to know, including how to prevent your Zoom event from being crashed.
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What is Zoom bombing?
Zoom is a videoconferencing app that many businesses and universities use to hold meetings or classes when in-person sessions aren't possible. You can learn more about the software, which is available for desktops and mobile devices in both free and paid forms, from our guide here.
Anyway, people have been using Zoom’s screensharing feature to inundate other viewers with graphic videos, pornography, and other NSFW content from across the internet. It became a trend after WFH Happy Hour - a public Zoom call hosted by reporter Casey Newton and investor Hunter Walk - was bombarded with crude imagery. A troll joined their call and screenshared Two Girls, One Cup.
What's worse, the perpetrator kept re-entering the call under a new name, forcing the hosts to end the call. The problem stemmed from this: Anyone who publicly shares a Zoom meeting link, especially where it could be found by online trolls, like on Twitter, needs to change the screensharing option before the call starts in order to protect their Zoom call from being disrupted or crashed by others.
Automated Zoom conference meeting finder 'zWarDial' discovers ~100 meetings per hour that aren't protected by passwords. The tool also has prompted Zoom to investigate whether its password-by-default approach might be malfunctioning https://t.co/dXNq6KUYb3 pic.twitter.com/h0vB1Cp9Tb
— briankrebs (@briankrebs) April 2, 2020
The problem of Zoom bombing was also made worse after it was revealed that an automated tool could be used to scrape and discover over 2,400 unprotected Zoom meetings a day.
How to stop Zoom bombing
When you share a Zoom meeting link on social media or other public forums, it becomes public, and anyone can join with that link. However, Zoom hosts can disable the screen sharing option in their settings (or the Admin controls of a call), thus preventing participants from taking control of the meeting and subjecting everyone watching to inappropriate content. Here's how to shore up a Zoom call.
Generate a random meeting ID
First, avoid using your Personal Meeting ID to host public events. It's basically one continuous meeting, so if you don’t want random people crashing your call, generate a random meeting ID. Learn about meeting IDs here and how to generate a random one in the video above.
Manage screen sharing
Never give up control of your screen. If you do not want random people in your public event taking control of the screen and sharing content, restrict their ability - either before the meeting or during the meeting in the host control bar.
- To prevent participants from screen sharing, use the host controls.
- Click the arrow next to Share Screen, and then Advanced Sharing Options.
- 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.
Zoom security updates
Zoom has recognised that there is a problem and is changing default settings to address it. Now new meetings, instant meetings and those you join with an ID are password protected by default.
Even Zoom meetings that have been scheduled for a while will now have a password.
Joining a new meeting also puts you into a virtual waiting room first where the host will now need to let you in. These changes should prevent unwelcome visitors from disrupting your meetings.
The company says this will be the default setting for Free Basic and Single Pro users but all other users are encouraged to make use of these settings as well.
Manage your participants
Only allow signed-in users to join
Only allow signed-in users to join. From the Zoom web portal, navigate to Settings. and enable "Only authenticated users can join meetings".
Lock the meeting
When you lock a Zoom meeting, no new participants can join, even if they have the meeting ID and password (if you have required one). In the meeting, click Participants at the bottom of your Zoom window. In the Participants pop-up, click the button that says Lock Meeting.
Require a password
You don’t always have to share a meeting link; you can generate a random Meeting ID when scheduling your event and require a password to join. Then, you can share that Meeting ID on social media, but then only send the password to join via a direct message.
Go here to learn more about how to set a password.
Remove disruptive participants
From that Participants menu, you can select a participant’s name and choose "Remove" to kick them out of the meeting.
Put people on hold or mute them
You can put all meeting participants on hold, temporarily disabling video and audio connections. Just 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 want them to rejoin. Hosts can also mute/unmute individual participants or all of them at once. Try enabling Mute Upon Entry in your settings - learn how here.
Turn off someone’s video to block unwanted, distracting, or inappropriate video. Go here to learn how.
Try waiting room
For public events, Zoom recommends trying its Waiting Room feature to stop your guests from joining a meeting until you’re ready. As a host, you can customise Waiting Room settings for additional control, and you can even personalise the message people see when they wait.
Go here to learn about how waiting rooms work.
Want to know more?
Check out Zoom's Zoom bombing blog post for more tips and tricks.