We’ve started to receive reports of something called “zoombombing”, which is the practice of people accessing Zoom meetings that may be publicly posted or otherwise made available, and posting obscene or disruptive content.  While Zoom makes it easy to access conferences and can be configured not to require authentication, this unfortunately also makes it easy for malefactors to access meetings as well.  The New York Times has reported on this phenomenon.

Zoom has some techniques that can be used to help minimize this from happening.  I’ll outline them below.

  1.  Do not use your Personal Meeting Room for class sessions.  To schedule a meeting, use the “Schedule a Meeting” link on the top of the Zoom page when you log in.  Check the “Generate Automatically” button when creating the meeting.  This will create a unique number for that session and make it harder for people who are not authorized to attend the meeting to find it.

    Zoom Meeting Security options

    A new meeting ID for each course or session will make it harder for people to access the meeting unauthorized.

  2.  You can also use a meeting password  as seen above.
  3. Don’t put links for class sessions up on public websites. Links in Blackboard are only accessible to students in your class so that is safer.  Links in email are safer as well.  Links could be copied or forwarded but it would have to be from an authorized user.
  4. Restrict or limit screen sharing to only the host, or enable it only for specific attendees at specific times.  People are using screen sharing to post objectionable content.
  5. Using the Zoom “Waiting Room” may help you screen participants and not let in people who you don’t recognize.  Limiting to authenticted users may also help:
    How to select a Waiting Room
  6. If someone does come into your Zoom session in an attempt to disrupt, they can be ejected from the meeting.  See the Zoom help article “Managing Participants in a Meeting” to see some tips and techniques to remove people from meetings if they’re disruptive.
  7. If you experience “Zoombombing” in a meeting, you can report the meeting to the BCTC Helpdesk and we can investigate.  In some cases we may be able to identify offenders and if they are Baruch students refer them to Student Affairs for followup.

Zoom is a powerful tool, and has been used with great success by many Baruch faculty.  With some precautions we should be able to continue to use it without disruption.

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