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Zoombombing: How to prevent hackers from ruining your meeting

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Zoombombing is a disturbing new trend among hackers to bring hateful, illegal, or illicit content into online gatherings, here’s how to protect yourselves.

zoombombing dogs

This is why we can’t have nice things, reason #85,729. Everyone, their cousins, and their dog are using Zoom now, with stay-at-home everything happening globally. Some horrible people are Zoombombing these online meet ups, with appalling messages and visuals. Never fear, because you can fight back to prevent this nastiness.

Photobombing can be hilarious or sweet, but Zoombombing has a decidedly nefarious side. Zoombombing is when a cretin with a 100% rotten agenda pops into a Zoom call and starts spewing racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, or sexually explicit content. These types of lowlifes are not welcome in decent society as a rule, but you place them in a synagogue or a classroom full of wee people, and it becomes exponentially vile. Remember the YouTube ghoul Momo who popped up on children’s videos encouraging them to kill themselves? These Zoombombers are on that level, lower than a snake’s belly.

We are not helpless, though. We’ve learned to use Zoom, and we can learn to protect ourselves from unwanted Zoombombing, hatemongering turdbuckets. Zoom claims to be working on ramping up protective security and privacy measures, and these Zoombombers have landed a place on the FBI’s radar. I suspect Zoom 5.0 will have much better built-in features to protect its users.

What can we do in the meantime to protect ourselves, to keep unwelcome intruders out of our living rooms, classrooms, meetings, or churches? Here are some steps the FBI is encouraging everyone to start taking:

  1. Do not publicly post the link. While you might be tempted to, in order to invite more people to your motivational chat or whatnot, the links should never be published publicly. You may put the invite online and have people register with their emails to receive a link before the call.
  2. Set your meetings to private. Even if they are a free event anyone can attend, make sure to have people sign up. Use the privacy settings in Zoom by either requiring a password to join the meeting or by using the waiting room. With the waiting room feature, the host or admin of the meeting controls who and when guests enter the Zoom room.
  3. To avoid having racist slurs or sexually explicit content displayed to your attendees, set the screen sharing option to “Host only.” This seems like a no-brainer, but only if you know the feature exists.
  4. Have all attendees use the latest version of Zoom to make sure all security/privacy features are updated.

Zoom also suggests using their additional measures, such as kicking out a participant, enabling/disabling a participant from recording, locking a meeting, only allowing users with certain email domain names to join, securing a meeting with encryption, or using audio signatures.

Zoom is having to grow up fast, with hundreds of millions of new users. They have had problems with privacy and, now, with security. Let’s hope we all start using these security features and that Zoom strengthens their internal measures to help protect our privacy and security. Because we really don’t have time for Zoombombing in the middle of the spring of our discontent.

Joleen Jernigan is an ever-curious writer, grammar nerd, and social media strategist with a background in training, education, and educational publishing. A native Texan, Joleen has traveled extensively, worked in six countries, and holds an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language. She lives in Austin and constantly seeks out the best the city has to offer.

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