How to stop a Zoom bombing: US central bank conference ‘hijacked’ to show porn
If you thought zoom bombing was a thing of the past, think again.
In a high-profile incident, a virtual meeting with the US Federal Reserve’s governor Christopher Waller was cut short after it was “hijacked” by a participant to display pornographic images.
More than 220 people were on the Zoom call on Thursday (March 2) at one point, before it was abruptly cancelled, according to Reuters. The attendees’ microphones and video were not muted by the organiser upon joining.
Minutes before the event was due to begin, a participant with screen name “Dan” began displaying graphic, pornographic images on the call. The event’s organiser said it “deeply regretted” the incident.
The lapse is the latest sign that virtual meetings can still be disrupted by intruders to shock and embarrass businesses and organisations.
What is Zoom bombing?
Zoom bombing is a phenomenon that emerged during the early days of the pandemic, when people were forced to use group video-calling apps while working and socialising from home. The term is derived from the name of the widely used teleconferencing service, Zoom.
It usually involves internet trolls disrupting virtual events by sharing juvenile, hateful, or pornographic material.
A number of alarming zoom-bombing incidents occurred in 2020, when people were still acclimatising to online meetings. That year, intruders posted anti-Semitic abuse to congregants at a London synagogue’s virtual service. Meanwhile, a US school meeting was invaded by trolls spouting racial slurs. Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle was also forced to cancel a virtual meeting in 2020 after a participant broadcast pornography to hundreds of people’s screens.
Back when people were still adjusting to working from home, some companies made the mistake of sharing their video meeting IDs online on social media, leaving the door open to hijackers. Trolls could access the events with just one click, as could anyone who saw the link on Twitter or elsewhere online.
These days, instances of zoom bombing are a rare occurrence but, as this latest incident shows, they can still happen.
How can I prevent Zoom bombing?
In an effort to make its service more secure, Zoom ended one-click access to meetings in April 2020, as part of a slew of security updates aimed at combatting zoom bombing.
It also allowed hosts to “report a user” using a new security button, and defaulted users to a “waiting room” feature that required participants to be approved to enter a meeting. In addition, it later introduced a new end-to-end encryption standard to prevent third parties from accessing user data.
Here are some tips on how to protect your Zoom meeting.
Don’t share links or passwords to your meetings online
Needless to say, you shouldn’t share links or passwords to your meetings on Facebook, Twitter, or other public social media. Instead, you can generate a random Meeting ID when scheduling your meeting and require a passcode to join, which you can share privately with chosen attendees.
Report a Zoom user
As mentioned above, you can report trouble-makers to Zoom. You can Find this option within the security icon or under the green shield icon in the top left corner of your meeting, where you can attach screenshots and other documentation as evidence.
Turn on Waiting Room
If it isn’t already enabled, you can turn on the Waiting Room feature, to see who’s trying to join your meeting, and keep unwanted guests out.
To do so, click on the In Meeting (Advanced) option, then search or scroll to find the Waiting Room option, and toggle the button next to the Waiting Room to enable this feature.
You’ll now be able to choose to send all participants to the Waiting Room when they join or to send only guest participants (external accounts) to the Waiting Room.
Mute all particpants and disable video
To prevent particpants from sharing their audio and video, you can disable both options for all attendees.
For video, on the controls toolbar, click security, under allow “Allow participants to”, uncheck both Start Video and Chat.
To mute, click the participants’ icon in the meeting controls, and click Mute All to silence all current and new attendees.