Easiest Guide To Keep Your Zoom Meetings Safe From Zoombombing | Hacker Noon

@kunalKunal Mishra

Tech Writer. Creating Graphics. theciva.wordpress.com/subscribe

Want to save your Zoom meetings from zoombombers?

I’ll show you how I made a 100% secure Zoom meetings system I bet no troll can disrupt. 

This works for everyone. Even if you’ve a free plan.

In fact, everyone I’ve shared these tips with never had to think about securing their Zoom meetings ever again.

If you want no-BS step by step guide that makes your Zoom meetings so secure that you can challenge trolls to try to disrupt it, you’ll love this guide

We’ll cover every loophole anyone can abuse to disrupt your meeting. And so this guide is divided into three sections:

  • Preparing a secure meeting setup
  • Starting a secure Zoom meeting
  • Running a secure Zoom meeting

Preparing A Secure Meeting Setup

Step 1: Protect Your Meetings With Passwords

Without password protection, anyone who has your Zoom meeting’s ID can enter into your meetings and cause trouble. So it’s very much required to have a hard to guess password. (Not 123456 for sure). 

Password protection should be enabled by default on your Zoom meeting settings. But if your meeting does not have it enable or you are not sure about it, do this to check:

  1. Go to the Zoom Web Portal Settings.
  2. Tap on ‘Security’ on the sidebar.
  3. Scroll until you find ‘Require a password for Personal Meeting ID (PMI)’, ‘Require a password when scheduling new meetings’, ‘Require a password for instant meetings’, and ‘Require password for participants joining by phone’. Turn them on.

This will turn on password protection for all types of meetings. If you’ve already scheduled a meeting, the password for it will be given there. 

To change the password of your PMI, 

(Note: if you don’t know what PMI is, no worries, I explained as easy as possible in the first tip of the next section.)

  1. Go to Zoom Web Portal Settings and then ‘In meeting (Advanced)’ again
  2. Under ‘Require a passcode for Personal Meeting ID (PMI)’ is a text box with a pencil icon. Click on the pencil icon to edit your PMI’s password. 
  3. Change it to something random and hard to guess, something like ‘3U37Y3’. (just not 123456, okay?)

Now, when you start or schedule a new meeting with your PMI these meetings will be automatically password protected by the password you choose in step #3 above.

When you’re starting a meeting with a random meeting id, the password will be automatically generated. But you can change it while starting/scheduling meetings.

Step 2: Turn on Waiting Room

The waiting room is like a lobby. If someone enters your Zoom meeting, he has to wait in the waiting room until you accept him. 

So if someone with a suspicious name tries to enter into your meeting you can prevent him from doing so. Even if he has the password.

Here’s a step by step description of how you can turn it on:

  1. Go to the Zoom Web Portal Settings
  2. Tap on ‘Security’ on the sidebar.
  3. Scroll until you find ‘Waiting room’ Make sure it’s toggled on.

Step 3: Change Chat Settings

By default, all participants of your meeting can chat with everyone together (like a group chat) or with a specific participant separately. 

Zoombombers often misuse this feature to share inappropriate things. This is especially worse if they do it privately meaning to one participant at once. If they do so, even you can’t see it’s happening.

If you don’t want that happening, here’s what you should do:

  1. Start a meeting (just to setup chat options)
  2. Click on the ‘Chat’ button on the menu bar and tap on the three-dot icon (⋯).
  3. Now, 
  • Select ‘No one’ if you wish to disable the chat for everyone, except the host.
  • Select ‘Host-only’ if you want participants to chat with the host only and no one else.
  • Select ‘Everyone publicly’ if you allow participants to chat with everyone but only in a group chat, not privately.
  • Select ‘Everyone publicly and privately’ if you want participants to be able to chat with anyone privately as well as with everyone on the group chat. 

You can now close the meeting and all chat settings will be automatically saved and applied the next time you start a meeting.

File Transfer

Alongside Chat, Zoom also allows participants to share files. There still is a chance of misuse here. Someone might just spam malicious files all over your meeting. So if you don’t need it, disable it:

  1. Head to Zoom Web Portal Settings.
  2. Under ‘In Meeting (Basic)’, scroll until you find ‘File Transfer’.
  3. Toggle it off

Note that only people, who can chat, can use the File Transfer feature if it’s enabled. So if you’ve chat disabled for participants, you don’t need to turn off File Transfer.

Step 4: Change Screen Sharing Settings

Participants of your meeting can share their smartphone/computer’s screen with others in the meeting, to show a presentation, for example, thanks to Zoom’s screen sharing feature.

While this can be pretty useful for the meeting, someone can misuse it to disrupt your meeting. 

Here’s how to prevent its abuse

  1. Go to the Zoom Web Portal Settings
  2. Tap on ‘In meeting (Basic)’ on the sidebar.
  3. Scroll until you find ‘Screen sharing
  4. Now,
  • If you want to turn off screen sharing entirely for everyone (including the host), turn off the toggle beside screen sharing.
  • If you want only the host to be able to share his screen, choose ‘Host-Only’ under ‘Who can share?’.
  • Choose ‘All participants’ if you want everyone to be able to share screen.
  • Under ‘Who can start sharing when someone else is sharing?’, select ‘host-only’. This means only the host can start screen sharing when someone else is already sharing.

Boom. You just closed another way someone could’ve disturbed your meeting.

Step 5: Disable Annotation

Note: Skip this step if you’ve disabled screen sharing for everyone including the host.

When you or someone else is screen sharing, another participant can annotate your screen, which means drawing lines, shapes arrows etc.

The actual use was to let people discuss and explain things by highlighting and marking but zoombombers use it to scribble all over the screen. What’s worse? You cannot see who is doing it.

But we have a quick fix of it too:

  1. Head to Zoom Web Portal Settings.
  2. Under ‘In Meeting (Basic)’, scroll until you find ‘Annotation’.
  3. Now, either
  • Switch off the and turn it off  (even the person screen sharing won’t be able to annotate)
  • Or, allow only the person who is sharing to annotate by checking the box.

If this was overwhelming for you,

take this free checklist and get everything done.

Starting A Secure Zoom Meeting

Tip 1: Generate A Random Meeting ID. Here’s why…

Pay attention. You have to understand Meetings IDs carefully.

Think of Zoom meetings as a room. When you give someone the meeting ID, you give him the address of the room. So he can use the meeting ID and enter into your meeting. 

You can use one of the two types of meeting IDs to make a Zoom meeting: PMI (Personal Meeting ID) or a randomly generated Meeting ID. 

PMI is the address of your home while a randomly generated ID is the address of any Cafe or meeting place, chosen randomly.

In your home (PMI), only you can start meetings while in a Cafe (randomly generated ID) anyone can do it. 

If you create a meeting with your PMI, your meetings will be in your home. In other words, everybody will know where your meetings take place. 

So if you’re doing a meeting with group A in your PMI and then after 4 hours,  you do another meeting with group B with your PMI. People in group A will know your house’s address, where a meeting with group B is happening and they’d have a chance to disrupt it. Or they might post in on Twitter and places like these where trolls can enter into your meeting and disturb it. 

So how to fix it?

Just use a randomly generated Meeting ID instead of your PMI. So every time you make a meeting the ID will be different. Easy.

Creating a meeting with a random ID is no different than creating one with your PMI. You just need to select generate automatically in ‘Meeting ID’ section.

Tip 2: Never Ever Share Your Meeting ID in Public Forums or Social Platforms

It’s like inviting trolls to your meeting. 

Online trolls, mostly found polluting the web on social platforms and forums, get (kind of) excited when they see a Zoom meeting ID. 

I don’t know if it is, but they find it fun to enter into meetings and disrupt them. Following all of the above steps, you can be sure they won’t be able to disturb your meeting. But even if so, it’s a good practice not to share meeting IDs publicly.

But what if I have a public meeting?

If your meeting has to be a public one like a show or an event, then here’s what you should do: enable registration. Registration for meetings is feature restricted to only licensed (paid) users. You can learn more about it here.

Managing A Secure Zoom Meeting

Tip 1: Lock Meetings

After everyone who should be in your meeting has entered, Lock the meeting. This means no one else will be able to get into your meeting. Not even into the waiting room.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. In a meeting, click on the security button in Meeting control bar at the bottom of the window.
  2. Select ‘Lock Meeting’

You can click on it again to unlock the meeting.

Tip 2: Disable Renaming

Someone might enter your meeting’s waiting room with the name of another person (so you let him enter) and then change it after he got inside the meeting. 

Disabling renaming stops this. Here’s how to disable renaming:

  1. In your meeting’s meeting control bar, click on the security option
  2. Select ‘Disable Renaming’

Tip 3: Disable Participant’s Audio/Video

If someone in your meeting starts his/her video or audio and disturbs all other participants, (maybe unintentionally, due to background noise) you can make him/her turn off their video/audio.

Here’s how:

  1. In a meeting, tap on the ‘Participants’ button in the Meeting control bar.
  2. Hover the mouse over the name of the person you want to mute.
  3. Tap on the ‘More’ button beside his name.
  4. Tap on ‘Stop Participant’s Video’ and/or ‘Mute Participant’.

Tip 4: Put A Participant To Hold

You can put a participant of your Zoom meeting on hold for some time. Being on hold means he will not be able to see, hear or chat with other participants. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. In a meeting, tap on the ‘Participants’ button in the Meeting Control bar.
  2. Hover the mouse over the name of the person you want to put on hold.
  3. Tap on the ‘More’ button beside his name.
  4. Tap on ‘Put participant on hold’.

Tip 5: What To Do If Someone Misbehaves?

If one of your participants misbehaves, you can remove him/her from the meeting with a click. But before that, you should report that user to Zoom. So his account will undergo security action.

To report participants, you will have to first enable the setting.

  1. Head to Zoom Web Portal Settings.
  2. Under ‘In Meeting (Advanced)’, enable the first option ‘Report participants to Zoom
  3. You can now report anyone while in a meeting by clicking on the ‘Security’ button in the menu bar.

After you’ve done you can remove him from the meeting.

How to remove someone from a Zoom meeting?

  1. In a meeting, tap on the ‘Participants’ button in the Meeting Control bar.
  2. Hover the mouse over the name of the person you want to remove.
  3. Tap on the ‘More’ button beside his name.
  4. Tap on ‘Remove’.

Tip 6: Set Up A Co-host

If you think this much managing of your Zoom meeting is a tedious task or if you have a huge number of people on your meeting, just make someone a co-host.

A co-host can do everything a host can do except:

  • Give a participant the ability to record locally.
  • Make a participant host or co-host.
  • Enable waiting room.

To make a participant a co-host,

  1. Click on the ‘Participants’ button on the meeting control menu bar
  2. Click the ‘more’ button
  3. Select ‘Make co-host’

Feeling overwhelmed? Grab this free checklist and get everything done within 10 minutes.

Previously published at https://theciva.wordpress.com/2020/05/15/stop-zoombombing-make-meetings-secure/

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