My boss has asked me to host some public meetings through the Zoom video chat service and I’m worried. I’ve heard that on public meetings you can have people steal control and post porn for everyone to see? Yech. How can I avoid “zoombombing” and similar problems?
It’s an unfortunate reality of the Internet that as soon as something becomes popular scammers, spammers and mischief makers find ways to exploit it for their own benefit or just to cause trouble. The Zoom conferencing service is no different. Once it became more popular as people shifted to working at home it’s no surprise that some of its design limitations have surfaced in awkward ways. It’s entirely appropriate for your boss to suggest you use the service for public video meetings, and you’re smart to be worried about “zoombombing” and uninvited guests exploiting your meeting for their own entertainment!
Fortunately there are quite a few settings you can tweak and fine tune prior to starting up a public facing Zoom meeting. For private meetings of course, there’s far less risk because you know and have control over your invitee list. Still, everyone should spend a few minutes ensuring that the Zoom conference settings are optimal before starting any sort of meeting. It’s easy and once you’ve set it up, all new video conferences will have the same settings automatically.
Which leads to the question of what settings to tweak. Let’s have a look!
To start log in to Zoom (you’ll need your own account on the service). Now on the top you’ll see this:
As highlighted, choose “Schedule a meeting” to proceed. Don’t worry, you don’t immediately schedule the meeting! 🙂
Now on the left side you’ll see all these menu options:
As suggested, choose “Settings” to proceed. Now on the right side there are some key settings.
The first one is “Join before host“:
You never want to enable this because the buzz is that mischief makers can jump into zoom conferences before the organizer and if they’ve set it up incorrectly, grab control even before you start. Make sure that’s OFF.
Next up, you also want to ensure that everyone who joins your zoom conference is automatically muted by default:
This one you want to turn ON. Every setting you change is instantly saved in your profile so no worries about a “Save” or “Submit” button at the end.
Next, disable ALL file transfer:
By default, “File transfer” is enabled for Zoom chat, but you definitely want to turn this OFF. Trust me, it’ll stop people getting virus-infected documents and other junk without realizing.
Next up, you want to disable “screen sharing” from participants. You’re the organizer and host, only you should be showing what’s on your screen to everyone else in the conference or chat:
Recommended settings for this is HOST ONLY for screen sharing and HOST ONLY for who can start sharing. Or just disable screen sharing entirely if you are just going to be on camera talking to participants.
Finally, as moderator if you have someone who’s causing trouble in the chat area or otherwise you can kick ’em out. Make sure they can’t just jump right back in by disabling “Allow removed participants to rejoin“:
Again, my recommended setting for this one is OFF, do not allow people who you have booted to return to the conference or webinar.
That’s it. Those settings should have you almost entirely immune to zoombombing so you can get on with your video conference or chat without worrying about ne’er do wells!
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