What is zoombombing? Here's how you can protect work meetings and virtual school lessons from being hacked

Zoom has taken measures to combat unnecessary interruptions and uninvited trolls, who have been harassing users by screen-sharing inappropriate content


                            What is zoombombing? Here's how you can protect work meetings and virtual school lessons from being hacked
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With the nation-wide lockdown and social distancing guidelines in place, the government has imposed stay-at-home orders, urging everyone to remain within the comforts of their home, while the pandemic continues to wreak havoc. As a result, people's lives have been disrupted and many have been forced to work remotely, while at home. So many have resorted to the use of the internet in doing their jobs either for filing documents, sending out emails, distance-learning or attending work meetings. The existence of such a concept as video calling has become a boon during this time, be it for recreational purposes or for work and the platform Zoom has been everyone's saving grace.

Working remotely isn't half as bad as it seems with video calling applications like Zoom that help us keep connected to all the office happenings and regular school lessons. However, with the internet being such a vast space and often devoid of restrictions, some troublemakers have emerged over the past few months who have been sabotaging professional meetings on Zoom, with nonsensical and often unsafe content. 

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Since the spike in the use of the platform, many users have reported hackers infiltrating their video conferences with pornographic or racist images. The video-calling app's privacy policy thus came under scrutiny and the increasing number of cases of hacking or 'Zoombombing' prompted the FBI to investigate the matter. In a dangerous turn of events, a virtual church service in Houston held over Zoom was interrupted by hackers who put gay porn, child abuse images and ISIS propaganda on the screen in front of at least 100 children. Now, as the Muslim community celebrates Ramadan, far-right groups have been zoom-bombing their faith-based online meetings

According to the Sunday Times, hackers put more than half a million Zoom user log in details on the dark web, selling them for $1.25 each. They were discovered and bought by Cyble, a cybersecurity intelligence company. Zoom has taken measures to combat these unnecessary interruptions and uninvited trolls, who have been harassing users by screen-sharing inappropriate content. It's latest software update looks to diffuse zoom-bombing to the best of its ability. It introduced an option to report someone and remove participants, as well as to lock your chatrooms and enable passwords by default. 

Here are some ways you can avoid being zoom-bombed while in a professional video conference call.

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Don't share the link on your social platforms  

Do not share the link to your scheduled zoom-call on your Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform that open to the public. This makes it easily available to potential hackers and unwanted invitees to sabotage your meeting. Make sure that you make it is an invite-only meeting, meaning only people you have invited can join in on the call with the email address you have provided them. This makes it easy for the host to know who exactly has joined in and that the people in the meeting are those that have been authorized to attend it. 

Lock the meeting once everyone's in  

When you are sure that everyone you had attended has joined your meeting, you can go ahead and use the new lock feature to close the room, so new and uninvited participants cannot join in. However, if you noticed that someone who isn't supposed to be there has been added to the meeting, the host can easily kick them out of the call. 

Require a password for the meeting

Creating a Zoom account gives you a Personal Meeting ID or a PMI, which is a numerical code that you share with the people you want to talk to over the app. You can use the PMI over and over because it never expires and people can join the meeting without the need for a new code because it doesn't change. However, the risk with a PMI is that anyone who has it can interfere in your meetings whenever they deem it fit. Zoom also has a feature called a unique ID, which is different every time you schedule a new meeting and is hence a bit more secure.

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Now, there's another added feature to the security, which is a password. Previously the app would only require a PMI and no password but now the unique ID comes with a password, automatically generated by Zoom, which you can change if necessary. In the case of a PMI meeting, you can choose to add a password from the settings, but manually, since Zoom won't generate one for you. 

Make sure only hosts and co-hosts can share their screen

Just so no one else can hijack your screens with unnecessary content during an important Zoom call, you can change your setting to allow only the host and/or co-hosts to share their screens. 

Create a waiting room 

Zoom has a waiting room feature that lets the host add people. When participants log into the call they're directed to a waiting room that the host can customize, which means they are unable to get into the call, until you let them in. This means you can filter participants based on their usernames, and don't have to add those who you don't recognize. 

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