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Zoom Bombing - "That won't EVER happen to me!"

tessamero profile image Tessa Mero Updated on ・4 min read

Introduction

I have heard the term "Zoom Bombing" a few times, but didn't really understand the meaning behind it. I thought it was some kind of prank people pull or it meant that 1 person joins your Zoom meeting and makes loud noises and leaves really quick, so I didn't think anything of it.

I didn't think that would ever happen to me as I am only posting about my developer meetups to the tech meetup community and twitter developer community, so I wouldn't think there'd be any issues with having to take extra security measures. Well, I was wrong and I learned a huge lesson. My goal of this post is to make sure that others don't experience the same thing as I did. And to the community that went through the Zoom Bombing, I sincerely apologize for the disrespectful and vulgar language that was being used on their end, as I will make sure this does not happen EVER again.

The way my meetups are structured is the URL has to be public for all the developer communities to view. The microphone/webcams are usually default to on as we are talking together as a community. I am unable to just "give the link out privately" as that's just not how developer meetups work. I spread out the information to other developer communities and make it a free and open event for others to join anywhere in the world.

What is Zoom Bombing?

Believe it or not, there are large communities of not-so-good people out there looking for public Zoom links that they can bring to their groups to prepare to "Zoom Bomb".

When I say "bomb" I mean a LOT of people, who you have absolute no relation or network with, join your Zoom meeting, finding every way to make inappropriate and derogatory things they can, whether it's whiteboarding over the speakers presentation, taking advantage of an open mic, or showing imagery that is inappropriate on the webcam.

Here are some measures to prepare your Developer Event to be more secure:

Set a Password

Okay, so maybe a password isn't the most effective way as you are an event organizer and are supposed to be posting the full joinable Zoom link in all of your social forums, but it's better than nothing!

Require Logging into Zoom

This just makes it slightly more difficult to zoom bomb someone if all of them have to login, so this will minimize the bombing affect! You can find this option in your zoom meeting settings when you login.

Security Tab: Disable Share Screen, Chat, and Enable Waiting Room.

Disabling Share Screen: This is an obvious one. You should only manually enable this for the hosts/speakers. You can right click their name and click on "Co-Host" and it will give them privileges to show video/sound/screenshare.

Disabling Chat: When I was Zoom bombed, random people were joining and posting derogatory comments in the Chat. This should stay disabled. You can enable it at certain points, such as during intro, during Q&A time, and during the closing, but be ready to hit the "disable chat" button if someone starts bombing the chat with bad words.

Enable Waiting Room: This was the biggest thing that halted the Zoom bombing. Because they were joining non-stop, more and more people doing very bad things, we were able to stop them from joining.

Disabling Voice Chat: When you start your meeting, you should be able to click on "Mute All" for participants. They can request to speak by clicking on "Raise Hand" icon next to the participants list, and the host will be able to see someone has their hands raised, and you can unmute that participant.

There's also an option that defaults to "Allow Participants to Unmute themselves" under the "..." settings on the bottom right corner next to "Unmute All". You want to uncheck that option or else if you mute everyone, they can unmute themselves.

Disabling Webcam: This is rather important after the things that I experienced today. People can join and turn on a virtual camera and display Adult Content. Default to everything OFF, and give permission one individual at a time.

This should be a good amount of steps to be on the safe side, although it seems to remove the "community" aspect of your event, this is what works right now as long as these Zoom Bombers exist.

Conclusion

Don't wait to be Zoom Bombed before actually taking these steps. Even if it doesn't bother or hurt your feelings on what "they" did during a Zoom Bomb, something may happen that could trigger or really hurt one of your community members, and that's something you want to prevent from happening.

Take care of your community and take these extra security precautions, even if you think, "That won't happen to me".

Image Credit: https://unsplash.com/@jens_johnsson

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tessamero profile

Tessa Mero

@tessamero

Addicted to learning! #vuejs #jamstack #devrel

Discussion

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Thanks for sharing Tessa and sorry this happened. Sadly this has been happening in business and in schools. I've heard a couple of situations where classes had to end early because of this. Appreciate you spelling out the tips everyone needs to consider.

 

Thanks for the kind comment Jason! And it is very scary to imagine what students/kids had to go through being zoom bombed in the near past.

 

I was in a Zoom call that get bombed hard last week. It wasn't my zoom meeting but I learned the lesson pretty quick.

 

Yeah it's definitely not a pretty situation. It feels like stabs in the chest for what you have to experience. I don't want anyone to go through this.

 

I was at a WordCamp that got bombed. You also need to watch webcams as virtual cameras can show adult content or videos.

 

I mentioned webcams to be default off because of the adult content, so I will specify that in the article so people understand why. Thanks Mike!