Zoom bombing is real!

If you think that Zoombmbing is an urban legend then you are wrong. This is really happening and it can ruin your Toastmaster evening or any meeting you organise.

Three weeks ago our wonderful club became a victim of a rogue group of people who joined our meeting and started to use very offensive language and were playing loud music. It was not possible to continue the meeting and as a zoom master on duty on that evening I decided to abort the meeting and contact all genuine participants with a new safe link. It delayed our meeting but we managed to continue it.

This incident showed us that although we had been aware of this possible danger in reality we were not ready for it. Now we are. You can learn from our experience and make sure that you minimise such risk and at the same time make your meeting accessible for your members and guests who are interested in participating and maybe later even joining your club.

Zoom experts recommend following:

1. Never use your personal meeting ID

Each Zoom user has a personal meeting ID—think of it as your Zoom phone number. When creating a meeting, you can use your personal ID or generate a random one, and you should always generate a random meeting ID. This screen will appear whenever you schedule a new meeting in Zoom.

If your personal meeting ID is leaked to the web, Zoom bombers are free to harass you with calls whenever they please.

2. Always use a meeting password

This doesn’t necessarily apply to large-scale meetings where public attendees are invited, but for anything other than a classroom, town hall, or lecture meeting, passwords should be turned on.

Make sure the password is kept safe, too. Zoom sends meeting passwords out to all invitees when invitations are sent. If you’re worried that someone unwanted may get the password, create the meeting without one set, update the meeting to add a password, and send it out to invitees in a separate email or via another form of communication.

3. Use Zoom’s waiting room feature

When you enable the waiting room for a Zoom meeting, each user who connects is put in a queue that the meeting host has to approve them from. If you don’t recognise someone in the waiting room, don’t let them in.

4. Mute audio and disable video for meeting attendees

Disabling video for everyone but the host will prevent any obscene content from being displayed on camera by attendees. This can be toggled off during the meeting creation.

Muting audio for all attendees has to be done by the host once the meeting has started. In order to do that, click on Manage Participants in the bottom bar of the Zoom meeting screen. In the menu that opens to the right of your video display, look for the More button. Click it, and you’ll see the menu shown in Figure B. Make sure Mute Participants On Entry is checked, and Allow Participants To Unmute Themselves is unchecked.

If anyone other than the host wishes to speak, request that the attendee use the chat feature to request speaking time, and then mute the person once they’re finished.

5. Turn off screen sharing for everyone but the meeting host/co host

Zoom bombers need to be able to visually take over a meeting to be effective, and preventing anyone from sharing their screen aside from the meeting host stops them from being able to go on the attack.

This is another option that has to be toggled once the meeting has started. While hosting a meeting, look for the green Share Screen button in the bottom menu bar. Click the arrow next to it to open video options, and then click Advanced Sharing Options. In the window that opens, make sure Who Can Share is set to Only Host.

I am sure that majority of us prefer real meetings when we can all be together in one place but with video conferencing tools we can also participate in meetings in other countries or on other continents so we can all use this time to learn more and meet more people. Learning to operate in this new virtual Toastmasters world will make us stronger, will make us smarter and for sure will keep us safe.

Please let us know about your experience with Zoom or other online video conferencing tools. We look forward to hearing from you!

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