If you’ve recently been working remotely, then chances are you are familiar with the video conferencing platform Zoom. Teleworking arrangements have been made across many businesses, organizations and even schools with many of them adopting Zoom as their video conferencing platform of choice. Zoom has quickly become a vital tool for millions of people to communicate during this time of stay-at-home orders and social distancing.
Unfortunately, the world is succumbing to a new type of internet trolling with disturbing, aggravating and irritating circumstances: Zoom-bombing. If you haven’t fallen victim to Zoom-bombing, count your blessings. Zoom-bombing occurs when someone hijacks the screen sharing feature of Zoom to bombard other viewers with the most appalling and downright nasty videos. These video hijackers even go as far as promoting violence, racism, sexism, and even shockingly monstrous pornography.
These video hijackers can gain access to a Zoom meeting when the video conferences are hosted over a public channel and the URLs or meeting IDs are shared over the internet or made accessible to the public. Video hijackers can also use an app that cycles through various meeting IDs until it lands on one that is correct and instantly gives the hijacker access to the Zoom meeting.
How to Prevent It
There are a few things that can be done to mitigate and prevent Zoom-bombing during your next Zoom meeting. Your first line of defense is to not share your meeting link on social media where everyone can have access to it. Instead, only share your meeting link privately, directly to specific meeting attendees. Here are a few tips on what else to do to prevent getting Zoom-bombed:
- Change screen sharing to “Host-Only” before a meeting starts
- Disable “Join Before Host”, that way people can’t get in the meeting before you and start wreaking havoc
- Designate a “Co-Host” that can help you moderate while you are presenting
- Only allow hosts to share screens.
- Lock the meeting once all attendees have joined
- Disable File Transfer to stop any participants from sending or receiving malicious software or even viruses
All these are valuable steps to take to mitigate the risks of getting Zoom-bombed. However, the best protection from Zoom-bombing is to set up a meeting password, which all participants must enter in order to join. Doing so ensures that only those with the password can join the meeting, and it stops any hijacker from being able to access your meeting. Even video hijackers using the app to cycle through meeting IDs will not be able to gain access to your meeting as the app has no recourse for a password-protected meeting.
Zoom-bombing may soon, itself, be classified as a punishable crime. Certainly, the actions taken by the video hijackers are worthy of lawful punishment. As we use the internet more and more, the number of cybercriminals will increase. It’s up to us to always be careful and take the necessary precautions as to not fall victim to any cybercrime. Stay vigilant, and as a general rule if anything seems weird or fishy, do not proceed forward.