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Unwanted Guests: Protecting Your Meetings from Zoombombing

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You’ve probably become an old hand at Zoom meetings over the past few weeks as use of the videoconferencing service has skyrocketed. Beyond its original intent as a business meeting platform, Zoom is being used for everything from family gatherings to virtual happy hours to a replacement for Trivia Night at your favorite watering hole. But as with every new trend in tech, the trolls are out to ruin things for the rest of us.

Welcome to Zoombombing, where uninvited guests crash your virtual gathering. This would be bad enough in itself, but many of these miscreants are using the opportunity to share pornography and/or hate speech. Zoombombing seems to be on its way to becoming a cottage industry, with social media groups dedicated to the very purpose of this type of digital vandalism.

Even if a meeting-crasher doesn’t share objectionable material, they can eavesdrop on sensitive company information, especially in a larger gathering where an extra participant is likely to go unnoticed.

Crashing a Zoom meeting is distressingly simple because the vast majority of meetings, even for larger companies, are set up without using Zoom’s password feature. For the hacker it’s a simple matter of generating random Zoom Meeting ID numbers until one works, and they’re apparently able to do this with about a 4% success rate.

Fortunately, there are several easy steps you can take to protect your meetings:

Use a password: The first and best option is to assign a password to your meeting in Zoom’s setup screen. This will eliminate the vast majority of Zoombombing instances.

Randomize: Also in the meeting setup, have Zoom choose a random meeting ID, not your Personal ID. If a troll gets hold of the latter they’ll have access to ALL your meetings.

Don’t share: Never share the link to your Zoom meeting on social media; that’s just asking for trouble. Inform your attendees by email, text, instant message, carrier pigeon … but don’t put the link out there for the world to see.

Keep them waiting: In the same meeting setup screen there’s a Waiting Room feature that allows you, the organizer, to admit attendees one by one. They can’t join until you do. This is better for smaller gatherings.

Take control: Make sure you and only you have control of the screen. This option is within the host control panel, and it won’t keep crashers out, but it will keep them from taking over.

Close the door: Once all your expected attendees are logged in, click on Manage Participants | More and choose Lock Meeting. Now no one else can join.

Too late for any of that? You can kick out unwanted guests (back to Participants, hover over attendee’s name and click Remove), but some victims have reported dozens of unwanted visitors, so this could be a losing battle. An ounce of prevention is a much better strategy.

Questions about best practices and security for working remotely? Contact Hill Tech Solutions.

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