Moving to online workstream collaboration software like Zoom is challenging enough for many businesses. And now reports of Zoom Meetings being hacked by uninvited guests are scary for these businesses and people who are new online video conferencing systems.
So, here’s our survival guide in these pandemic situations when not using a free collaboration software like Zoom is not an option. Zoom does many things better than the competition, for free.
What is Zoom Bombing?
The internet and the FBI have termed this fiasco of Zoom Meetings being hacked as ‘Zoom Bombing’.
However, Zoom Bombing isn’t exactly hacking a Zoom meeting. It’s merely taking advantage of the way Zoom Meetings are created and operated. And the good thing about that is, you can prevent it by customizing the settings of a Zoom Meeting.
Suppose, you set up a Zoom Meeting and send invites to everyone who you want to join the meeting. It is a normal procedure and works great for creating Zoom meetings quickly. However, if some poor soul to whom you have sent an invite, accidentally leaks the invitation link or the mail, then it can be used by anyone to join the meeting.
These unwanted and uninvited guests in a Zoom meeting can then bomb the meeting in many ways. The worst Zoombombing is done via screen sharing.
By the default settings in a Zoom meeting, any participant can share their screen in a meeting. A zoombomber can take advantage of this feature and share unsocial or not-safe-for-work content via screen sharing to everyone in the meeting. Which is essentially zoom bombing your meeting.
How to Prevent Zoom Bombing
Unwanted and uninvited guests can easily bomb Zoom meetings, but that doesn’t mean Zoom isn’t secure enough. It’s the way Zoom meetings are created that bombing is easier for anyone with the invitation link.
While you cannot control who can get their hands on the invitation link or mail to your Zoom Meeting, you can make certain that any unwanted guests cannot join the meeting.
In circumstances when you cannot define a guest as ‘unwanted’ because you’re sending out an open invitation to anyone who wants to join a meeting, you can at least restrict participants from sharing their screen content by allowing only the host to share the screen in a Zoom meeting.
Disable Screen Sharing for Participants
By disabling the screen sharing ability for participants in a Zoom meeting, you can make sure nobody bomb the meeting with unwanted content.
You can disable Screen Sharing in Zoom by accessing Screen Sharing settings from the host control bar in a Zoom meeting window. Click on the upper arrow icon next to Share Screen button, and select ‘Advanced Sharing Options’ from the menu.
Then, set the following settings in the advanced sharing options screen:
- How many participants can share at the same time?
✅ One participant can share at a time
- Who can share?
✅ Only Host
Restricting screen sharing to only the host can prevent the most common Zoom bombing method that participants could exploit.
You can also permanently restrict Screen Sharing to the host only from your Zoom Account settings page. For that, open the zoom.us/profile/setting link in a web browser and sign in into your account.
On the ‘Meetings’ tab on your Zoom account setting screen, scroll down until you see ‘Screen sharing’ options under the ‘Meeting (basic)’ section. Then, change ‘Who can share?’ setting to ‘Host Only’, and click the Save button.
Now every Zoom Meeting that you set up will have Screen Sharing disabled for the participants. Only you’ll be able to share screen in the meeting.
Create a Waiting Room to Manually Approve Who Can Join the Meeting
To restrict unwanted guests from even joining your Zoom meeting, you can create a waiting room to individually approve people who want to participate in the meeting.
Waiting Room in Zoom lets you control who can join the meeting regardless of the invitation link they have been given.
To enable Waiting Room, open the zoom.us/profile/setting page in a web browser and sign in with your Zoom account. Then scroll down on the page until you see ‘Waiting room’ option under the ‘In Meeting (Advanced)’ section. You can also search for ‘Waiting room’ on the page by using ‘Ctrl + F’ shortcut.
Turn on the toggle switch next to ‘Waiting room’ to enable the feature.
Now when an invitee tries to join the meeting, you’ll see a pop-up on the Host Controls bar in the Zoom meeting window with to ‘Admit’ the person into the meeting or ‘See waiting room’. Click ‘Admit’ if you want to allow the invitee.
To see the waiting room in Zoom, click on the ‘Manage Participants’ option on host controls bar to open the open the participants list window on the right side of the screen.
If you’ve any participants in the waiting room, they’ll show at the top of the participants’ list under the ‘## persons are waiting’ section. Hover over the name of the participant who you want to allow into the meeting and click the ‘Admit’ button.
To disable Waiting Room for a particular Zoom Meeting, click the ‘More’ button below the participants’ list in the meeting window, and deselect the ‘Put Participants in Waiting Room on Entry’ option.
This way you can disable or enable Waiting Room on the fly whenever you want.
Lock a Zoom Meeting
Locking a Zoom meeting is the easiest way to block unwanted guests from entering into your meeting. After all attendees you personally invited have joined the meeting, you can lock it so no one else can enter.
Click on the ‘Manage Participants’ option in the Zoom meeting window to open the participants’ list view. Then, click the ‘More’ button at the bottom of the participants’ list and select ‘Lock Meeting’ option from the menu.
A confirmation dialogue will show on the screen to make sure that you understand what happens when you lock a meeting. Click the ‘Yes’ button to confirm.
When you want to allow someone into a locked meeting room, you can unlock the meeting temporarily from the same menu. Only this time you’ll see the ‘Unlock Meeting’ option.
Lock the meeting again after allowing someone in, so it’s safe and secure from unwanted and uninvited guests.
To keep your Zoom Meetings secure from Zoom Bombing, you need to make sure that Screen Sharing is enabled only for the host of the meeting, and use either a Waiting Room or Lock the Zoom Meeting to keep unwanted people away from getting into your meeting.