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Zoombombing: What it is & How Interactio prevents it

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7 min

When the world transitioned to online during the COVID-19 pandemic, videoconferencing platforms experienced a massive increase in the number of users. For example, from December 2019 to April 2020, Zoom has increased its number of daily users from 10 to 300 million!

This swift rise did not go unnoticed. Many of the newly acquitted users used remote meeting platforms for the first time. Due to high demand, companies rushed to introduce a lot of new applications, software tools, or features, leaving more space for user errors. Cyber-security and privacy incidents rose by 23% after shifting to remote work, and some even got a dedicated term: “zoombombing.”

What is zoombombing?

At first glance, it seems that zoombombing is something related to the well-known videoconferencing platform Zoom. Well, it is partly true! There is a high chance that this term originated during a Zoom meeting - when someone illegally joined the meeting and disrupted its close flow. Yet, it encompasses much more than just the Zoom platform. 

In simple words, zoombombing is an occasion when an unwanted person joins a meeting. Many videoconferencing platforms are sensitive to this issue right now - from Zoom to Webex and many others. It can affect any user - educational institutions, businesses, and even governments. 

Is zoombombing officially illegal?

Yes! When the pandemic started, the FBI quickly recognized zoombombing as an illegal action. One of the first reported cases happened during a remote class - an unidentified person dialed into the meeting, unmuted their microphone, and “shouted the teacher’s home address in the middle of instruction.”

Long story short, zoombombing is now considered a cyber-crime, and any victim of a teleconference hijacking can report it as an incident.

What precautions can we take to avoid hijacking?

Each videoconferencing platform has its own policies to prevent zoomboming. They continuously work to enhance security, so make sure to always update your software to the latest version. 

Despite the long-living myth, it is not only governmental organizations and corporations that should take security and privacy measures seriously. Even those who host individual meetings can be hijacked, so make sure to protect your personal data carefully!

Below we’ll provide some of the most common tips that you can use to prevent illegal activities happening in your event:

  1. Screensharing can cause the most problems. Assure that you disable screensharing and only allow it to the hosts, co-hosts, and presenters of your meeting. 
  1. Make all meetings private and do not share links publicly. Public meetings can be easily hijacked, and if you distribute the link to your meeting on social media - there is a high chance that you will be zoombombed. Additionally, people tend to use the same meeting ID (e.g., their username, company name, or anything that is easily identifiable) for different meetings. This is also not recommended because hijackers can easily guess such IDs and share them around.
  1. It is better to use a waiting list than a password for a meeting. Yes, enabling a password means that the meeting is now private. It might work for small business meetings, but if you are organizing a conference, passwords can be easily passed to other people. On the other hand, a waiting list will let you choose who has access to your event. 
  1. Encourage participants to use their real names. This will help you identify the participants that registered for the event and have the right to be there. If someone enters with an unidentified nickname, you can simply keep them in the waiting room. 
  1. Disable remote-control. Remote control features can cause a lot of issues for a presenter if an outsider starts controlling their presentation.

If you are using Zoom, additional instructions on how to stop zoombombing are available in this guide. If you are using another platform, check which features you can disable for your preferred videoconferencing platform. If you are not planning to use a specific function - simply disable it. Otherwise, hijackers will make use of it, so just take one step further to be ahead of them!

How does Interactio prevent issues like zoombombing?

Interactio is a full solution for multilingual meetings where we combine remote simultaneous interpretation with the next-generation video-meeting platform. Since the first launch of the platform in 2015, we have put security and privacy at the heart of our product development. 

Learn more about Interactio security and privacy mindset. 

Here is what we implemented over the years to increase security and privacy in your events:

  1. Moderator-only functions. Moderator is the host of your event who coordinates the meeting and manages the discussion between speakers. To prevent unwanted guests, they can lock the meeting room when all participants connect. If moderators do not lock the meeting from the very beginning, they can kick out the unwanted guests during the meeting. Continuously monitoring the flow of your event is a must to avoid interruptions.
  1. Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) integration. SAML stands for Security Assertion Markup Language, which is an open method of identity. SAML authentication enables single sign-on (SSO), saving your user’s pain of password proliferation. As an event organizer, you can set authentication using your company’s single sign-on. This way, you will secure your meetings, the safety of credentials, and improve user experience. It is beneficial in the events with multiple meetings - one button will be all it takes to enter various sessions. Only if you’re invited, of course!
  1. Individual invitations. While this seems like a fundamental way to overcome the problem, it helps! With Interactio, you can invite participants individually instead of just sharing the link to the meeting. In this case, no one will be able to leak meeting links or join in the name of someone else.

Zoombombing clearly shows that many crimes are becoming virtual, and it is crucial to put security and privacy first to protect your personal data. 

Remember, building a secure event ecosystem is a shared responsibility of all - event organizers, service providers, and participants.

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Published on

October 8, 2021

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