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Key tips to avoid Zoombombing and unwanted meeting guests

Are you using Zoom for large meetings or classroom instruction? If you are, you want to be sure you’re taking proactive steps to ensure a safe environment for you and your students or other attendees.

Zoom has made a number of security enhancements during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the goal of ensuring safe meetings and preventing instances of Zoombombing—a term for intruders crashing and sometimes disrupting online meetings. Nevertheless, anyone running a meeting has a key role to play to safeguard their meetings.

Note that Zoom continues to enhance security. Visit the Zoom Privacy and Security webpage for the latest details, and also consider reading Zoom’s blog post on keeping uninvited guests from your Zoom event.

Follow these steps to ensure meetings are secure.

Add a passcode

Add a passcode to your Zoom meetings. Passcodes are unique to each scheduled meeting and meant to be shared with your invited meeting participants along with the meeting ID in order for them to gain access. You should not share passcodes publicly by posting them on a public website or by sharing via social media. Zoom offers more guidance on the use of passcodes.

Use a waiting room

Enable the Waiting Room feature in your Zoom account. This virtual staging area prevents people from joining a meeting until the host is ready to begin. You can customize the settings to control which participants can join your meeting and when. Learn more about the Waiting Room feature in Zoom.

Only allow Rutgers users to join

When you schedule a meeting through your Zoom account, you can check off a box in the Meeting options section that says, “only authenticated users can join.” If you check this box, only users with a Rutgers Zoom account will be able to join your meeting. Make sure that all participants have a Rutgers account beforehand. Get more info on how to select this security feature.

Checking computer audio only

There is another security feature you can add when scheduling a meeting through your Zoom account. Choosing “computer audio” in the Audio section will ensure that unwanted guests can’t call in to the telephone number and avoid using the meeting passcode. Take the steps to choose this feature.

Do not share your meeting link in public forums

Don’t share meeting information on social accounts, chat rooms, direct messaging platforms, or other public places. Only use an official, secure method of communication to share a meeting link with your invited guests. By sharing your meeting links publicly, you are increasing the risk of Zoombombing. Learn more about how to share your Zoom meetings and webinars securely.

Keep Zoom updated

Don’t assume Zoom will automatically update your desktop or mobile application. You want the latest version of Zoom with security enhancements. Learn how to update Zoom.

Don’t allow “Enable join before host”

In your Zoom settings, make sure “Enable join before host” is left unchecked as a way to avoid disruptive visitors from arriving before you do.

Limit screen sharing

Prevent other participants from sharing their screen without individual authorization. Turning this feature off will eliminate unwanted distractions as the meeting host has control over what’s shared. Get more info on this features and others for managing participants.

Don’t use your personal Zoom meeting ID

When you schedule a meeting, Zoom’s default choice is to generate a unique Meeting ID for you. Make sure to choose that setting. If you use your personal meeting room ID instead and share it with others, anyone who knows it can hop into your personal meeting by adding that ID to the meeting link. If a meeting ID is automatically generated each time, unwanted users won’t have access to it.

Lock your session

Sometimes you’ll want to lock your meeting after it’s gotten underway to prevent unexpected visitors. When you do this, participants won’t be able to join, even if they have the password. Here’s the info from Zoom: “In the meeting, click Participants at the bottom of your Zoom window. In the Participants pop-up, click the button that says Lock Meeting.”

Remove unwanted participants

Yes, sometimes you need to remove a participant, and you should know how. Here’s Zoom’s advice: “From that Participants menu, you can mouse over a participant’s name, and several options will appear, including Remove. Click that to kick someone out of the meeting.” Learn more about managing participants.

Pause meeting temporarily to remove disruptive participant

Hosts and co-hosts now have the option to temporarily pause their meeting and remove a disruptive participant. Under the Security icon located on your Zoom meeting screen, you will now be able to click “Suspend Participant Activities.” By doing this, all video, audio, in-meeting chat, annotation, screen sharing, and recording during that time will stop, and Breakout Rooms will end. 

Additional resources

Zoom Privacy and Security webpage

Zoom blog post: “How to Keep Uninvited Guests out of Your Zoom Event”