Now more than ever, people in the U.S. are increasingly reliant on video chatting due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Quarantine and stay-in-place orders have popularized the use of platforms such as Zoom. However, a worrying trend is on the rise. “Zoom-bombing” incidents are rampant across America, and corporate employees who teleconference using the Zoom app know no peace.
What is Zoom-bombing?
Picture this: You are logging into a corporate meeting via the popular Zoom app. Once in the Zoom conference, each person starts to introduce themselves, until, all of a sudden, something odd happens. An uninvited man appears waving insanely at the screen.
So, this is the new Coronavirus reality. If you are using the Zoom platform without exercising appropriate measures, then you might be next in the long list of ‘Zoom-bombing’ victims. This sees hackers viewing your business meeting, or worse, trying to upset participants by shouting racial insults and profanity. Don’t cancel out the possibility of offensive images or content in that video feed, too!
Why the rise in Zoom-bombing incidents?
Let’s start with the obvious reason. Zoom app is the main target given the upsurge in use since the outbreak of the Coronavirus. However, it has a lot to do with Zoom participants sharing their call videos on social media platforms such as Facebook than any other thing.
If you type a simple search “Zoom.us” on Twitter, you’ll bump into several links. Mind you; anyone can use them to join active Zoom video calls. Isn’t that a loophole already?
The multiple incidents of Zoom-bombing attacks seem not to be a result of flaws in Zoom algorithms. Instead, it points to the participants’ limited cyber security knowledge and their flawed understanding of Zoom commands.
Dedicated video links are also popping up on other platforms, for instance, Reddit. Its dedicated platform ‘r/zoom-bombing’ also fell prey to hackers. Many “Classroom Meeting IDs” would be found easily on the site, a practice that made the Zoom app a soft target for hackers. Reddit has since shut down the platform for violating policy regulations.
7 Easy Ways to Avoid Zoom-bombing Attacks
1. Use a Unique ID for Public Zoom Meetings
Whenever you create a new Zoom account, the app will assign you a Personal Meeting ID (PMI). It’s a unique code that differentiates you from other users. However, a PMI is only useful if a few participants are on a single video call. If your organization plans to go live with a broader audience, say, members of the public, it’s safer to use a one-time code. Failure to this, hackers will not need a second invitation to disrupt your video calls using PMIs.
2. Don’t Share the Meeting ID Publicly
Send the unique meeting link to invited members only. Resist the urge to share a classroom or teleconference link on a social media post.
3. Follow up on Meeting Password
For those conferences hosted privately, password protections are usually on by default. Make sure to keep those protection settings on. You will not only prevent uninvited users from joining the session but also have some peace of mind throughout. Remember, it is only applicable when you generate a unique meeting ID, not when you use your PMI.
4. Allow Only the Host(s) to Share the Screen
How do you prevent intruders from hijacking the screen during a Zoom call? It is relatively simple. Ensure your settings indicate that the only persons allowed on the screen are those hosting the conference. First, navigate to Personal> Settings> In Meeting (Basic). Then look for Screen sharing. Confirm the option that only allows the hosts to share.
5. Enable Waiting Room
When users log into the Zoom call, they come across a customizable Waiting Room. They can’t get in until you, the call host, let’s them. Typically, the Zoom app enables Hosts to allow participants at the same time. It means you can screen all the attendees as they enter. If you see a name that you don’t recognize in the Waiting Room, you don’t have to allow them in.
6. Create an Invites-only Conference
Enterprise, Education, Business, or Pro Zoom accounts all have “Authentication Profiles” settings. So if you enable that particular setting, no uninvited party can attend the video meeting. They will receive a notification on their screen, informing them of call denial.
7. Lock the Meeting upon Starting
As a host, you can lock the meeting once you confirm that all verified attendees are present. During the video call, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click ‘Manage Participants.’ Here, you’ll see the Participants’ control panel. At the bottom end, click on More> Lock Meeting.
Zoom-bombing can happen to anyone, but it makes perfect sense to limit the risk as much as possible. Our hands-on tips will help you be at the top of any victimization from hackers. Remember, a private meeting shouldn’t be a public affair at any one time. Stay vigilant.
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