Combatting Zoombombing

Updated Sep 28, 2020

Zoom, the video conferencing software supported by many schools and business during this pandemic, is a great way to stay connected remotely. However, many people are taking advantage of the increased Zoom traffic by hacking into meetings and "Zoombombing." Zoombombing, much like photobombing, is when someone makes their way into a Zoom meeting to which they were not invited. They then drop inappropriate or alarming content into the meeting, often through screen sharing.

In this article, you can learn what steps you can take to protect your meetings from so-called Zoombombers. The steps in the tutorial sections are based on the web browser version of Zoom with modifications for desktop version of Zoom, which can be downloaded here.


Get a new meeting ID

Rather than using your personal meeting ID for each meeting, use a per-meeting URL in your Zoom invitations. Because of the short life span of these per-meeting URLs, this will decrease the likelihood of someone finding your URL in an Internet search and joining uninvited. To learn more about generating a random meeting ID, visit Zoom's support tutorial.

Add a password

In addition to creating a new meeting ID, you may want to create a password. Even if you use a new URL every meeting, a Zoombomber can still find the invite and hop in. Creating a password adds an extra layer of security to your meetings.

1. Click the Schedule a Meeting tab on the right side of the navigation bar on your Zoom home page.

Schedule a Meeting

On the desktop version, click the Schedule button or the Meetings button at the top right of the window.

Schedule

2.  Scroll down until you find the Meeting ID and Meeting Password sections.

Meeting ID

3. If it is not already selected, change the Meeting ID to Generate Automatically. Then, check the box next to Require meeting password.

Meeting ID

4. A password box will appear. You can either use the code given in the box, or you can create your own. This is the password your participants will use to get into the meeting.

password

5.  Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save or Schedule.

6. Send the meeting link as well as the password in a private message or email to your participants.

You can also send a link with an embedded password, which can be found under Account. But this may also be somewhat of a risk, since the person who follows the link doesn't need to confirm any kind of extra step, like a password.

Require authentication

By allowing only authenticated users to join, you can weed out anyone who isn't using their school email. This setting requires users to sign in with the email address that received the meeting invite.

1. Click the Schedule a Meeting tab and scroll down to the bottom of the page until you reach the Meeting Options section.

schedule a meeting

On the desktop version, click the Schedule button or the Meetings button at the top right of the window.

schedule

2. Check the boxes next to Enable waiting room and Only authenticated users can join.

Enable waiting room and Only authenticated users can join

This is found under the Advance Options tab in the desktop version.

advance options
advance options

3. Click Save or Schedule.

Allow only BYU-Idaho Authenticated Users

Selecting this option requires anyone joining your meeting to be logged into Zoom with their BYUI account. If they are not logged in, they will not be able to join.

1. Click on Zoom Settings located on the side bar

settings

2. Scroll down to Only authenticated users can join section and turn on Authenticated Users.

authenticated users

3. Click on Edit next to Only BYUI Employees or Students

edit

4. Check Set as default authentication option and click Save

Set as default authentication
Create a waiting room

The waiting room feature allows the host to see who is trying to join the meeting before they actually join. For more information on how to set up a waiting room for your specific meeting type, visit Zoom's support tutorial on waiting rooms.

Turn off "Join Before Host"

This default setting allows anyone with access to the meeting to join before the host does. By turning off this feature, you lower the risk of someone joining and broadcasting content to all your meeting attendees without you there to kick out the Zoombomber. You can change this in Settings under Meetings and Schedule Meeting.

Schedule Meeting

In the desktop version, this can be found under the Advanced Options tab in Schedule.

enable waiting room
Disable screen share

Screen share is a helpful tool that allows others in the meeting to see whatever is on your screen. However, if a Zoombomber is allowed to screen share in your meeting, they could show anything they want to your meeting. Disabling this feature will disable a lot of opportunities for Zoombombers.

You may still need to enable screen share as an option for yourself and your students for certain projects, assignments, or just overall better communication. In the Settings tab, you can configure the screen share settings so that only the host can screen share, and the host can control who else can screen share.

This setting is not available for modification within the desktop app. You may go directly to the browser edition's settings page or follow the desktop steps provided and click the link that will take you there.

1. Click the Settings tab on the left side of the Zoom home window.

settings

In the desktop version, click the gear icon at the top right corner of the window.

settings icon

2. Under the Meetings tab, click In Meeting (Basic).

In Meeting (Basic)

In the desktop version, click the View More Settings button at the bottom of the window. This will take you to the browser version of Zoom.  

View More Settings

3. Scroll to Screen sharing, make sure it is turned on with the toggle button, and select Host Only under Who can share?

Screen sharing

If someone successfully Zoombombs your meeting

If a Zoombomber does get into your meeting, there are ways to halt them in their tracks.

The following steps are identical for both the browser and the desktop version of Zoom.

Kick them out

If there is anyone in your meeting who shouldn't be there, you have the power to make them leave.

1. Open the Participants List.

Participants List

2. The list will slide out from the left of the screen. Hover over the participant's name and click the More drop-down menu. Click Remove.

more

3. Click Yes to confirm the removal.

remove dialog box
Restrict their access

If you don't want to kick them out, you can simply silence them up by stopping their video and audio.

1. Open the Participants List.

Participants List

2. The list will slide out from the left of the screen. Hover over the participant's name. Click Mute to turn off the participant's audio.

mute

To stop the participant's video, click the drop-down menu and select Stop Video.

more

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