What Exactly is “Zoombombing,” and How Can You Avoid It?

Virtual communications platforms, like Zoom, are more popular than ever, as many Americans continue to work and socialize from home. But have your organization’s members taken the necessary steps to keep your meetings from being hacked? The term “Zoombombing” is rising in popularity, as hackers find new ways to send unwanted messages to unsuspecting meeting members. 

Zoombombing is a type of cyberattack; more specifically, when someone hijacks a Zoom teleconferencing chat. This includes interruptions by spammers sharing offensive imagery on-screen, transferring adult content to meeting members, and intimidating others with hate speech and threats.

Reports of Zoombombing flooded the internet recently, from various sectors of business. A California State University, Long Beach doctoral candidate told NPR that someone started drawing lewd images and racial slurs on the screen, in the middle of his doctoral dissertation presentation. About 40 people, including the man’s friends, family, and classmates, witnessed the Zoombombing. 

The Los Angeles Times reported that a group of hackers Zoombombed a school district meeting in California to chant racial slurs. Multiple religious organizations have reported that their livestreamed services and ministry meetings were Zoombombed by users shouting hate speech and sharing adult content.

So, how can you protect your virtual meetings from being Zoombombed? Here are five tips:

  1. Avoid public meetings. To make a meeting private, the host can require a meeting password or use the “Waiting Room” feature, to control when and which guests are admitted to the meeting. 
  2. Manage screen-sharing options. Change your meeting settings to “Host Only,” so someone else cannot take control of the screen. 
  3. Disable the “File Transfer” feature, to eliminate the sharing of any digital viruses or inappropriate files.
  4. Disable the “Join Before Host” feature. If it is left enabled, anyone could log-in to the meeting and join before the host, or without the host at all.With this option enabled, the first person to join the meeting will automatically be made the host, and will have full control over the meeting. 
  5. Disable “Allow Removed Participants to Rejoin,” so booted attendees can’t slip back in and rejoin the meeting.

Zoom lists additional privacy and security tips on its security page