The spread of the coronavirus pandemic has meant that now millions of Americans are self-quarantined in their homes. As a result, many are turning to video conferencing platforms like Zoom for work meetings, social gatherings, and classes.
While tools like Zoom are making at-home meetings nearly frictionless, they have had a number of privacy and security snafus. Recently, the FBI issued a statement warning video conference users that they may be targets for a type of criminal disruption known as "Zoombombing."
Let’s take a closer look at what Zoombombing means, how it happens, and ways you can protect yourself.
What’s Zoombombing and how does it work?
Zoombombing occurs when an uninvited intruder joins a Zoom meeting with the intention of causing harm — whether that’s promoting the use of alcohol at an AA meeting or disrupting religious ceremonies by chanting anti-semitic slurs.
The problem is two-fold: 1) Organizations aren’t using proper security settings, like setting a meeting password, and 2) Zoom has allowed ease of use to overshadow some of its security practices, according to the company. Hackers have been able to identify and join open meetings by randomly scanning rooms, causing Zoom to place a 90-day hold on upcoming feature releases so it can focus on privacy and security.
How can you protect yourself from Zoombombing?
Need to hold a virtual meeting? Here are a few steps you can take to reduce your chances of being Zoombombed:
- Don't make your meetings public. Sharing your meeting link on social media or other public forums means anyone can join your meeting, including bad actors.
- Consider requiring a meeting password or using Zoom's "waiting room" feature to control which guests are admitted to your meeting.
- When hosting an event, avoid using your personal Zoom meeting ID number. Instead, consider generating a random meeting ID number for each meeting or event you host. A personal meeting room, not unlike a real meeting room, means people know where you are and how to find you.
- Utilize platform settings to control access and reduce the possibility of unwanted visitors. You could also consider disabling the private chat feature, turning off the ability to transfer files, or blocking screen annotation during meetings.
- Make sure you keep up with any software updates. With the increase in meeting disruptions, Zoom has been updating its software to enable added passwords for meetings and disable the ability for users to randomly scan for meetings to join.
- If an unknown user still manages to gain access to your meeting, you can remove an unwanted or disruptive user by clicking on their username in your meeting participants’ menu. Once you remove someone, they won't be able to rejoin the meeting. You can also put a participant on hold, disable their video, or mute them.
For more information on how to protect your identity and privacy during the COVID-19 health crisis, you can check out our tips for recognizing and avoiding the most popular pandemic-related scams.