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Trolls find new targets in Zoom meetings: Here’s how to avoid ‘zoombombers’

With a significant number of employees recently moving to work-from-home arrangements, trolls have found a new target for their antics — meetings held on the videoconferencing app Zoom.

Zoom is a free and easy-to-use service that has helped workers who are currently staying at home continue engaging with others in formal meetings and casual hangouts. The popularity of the app has surged, alongside sign-ups for other digital collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and Slack, as companies have advised their employees to stay at home.

However, the default settings of Zoom are configured in such a way that allows trolls to invade meetings, in what is now known as “zoombombing.” Some “zoombombers” have taken advantage of the app’s screen-sharing feature to join online meetings uninvited, and at times showing inappropriate content such as violent images and pornography.

One of the victims of zoombombing was Jessica Lessin, founder and editor-in-chief of The Information.

Our video call was just attacked by someone who kept sharing pornography + switching between different user accounts so we could not block them. Stay tuned for next steps. And I am sorry to everyone who experienced. We shut down as soon as we could.

— Jessica Lessin (@Jessicalessin) March 20, 2020

Keeping zoombombers out of meetings

Zoom is aware of the zoombombing trend and has released advice on how people may avoid the trolls.

“We have been deeply upset to hear about the incidents involving this type of attack. For those hosting large, public group meetings, we strongly encourage hosts to change their settings so that only the host can share their screen,” a spokesperson for Zoom told Forbes.

To prevent participants from sharing their screens, the meeting host may select Advanced Sharing Options from the arrow next to the Share Screen icon, and then choose Only Host as the only person who can share their screen.

“For those hosting private meetings, password protections are on by default and we recommend that users keep those protections on to prevent uninvited users from joining. We also encourage users to report any incidents of this kind directly so we can take appropriate action,” the spokesperson added.

Instead of sharing a Personal Meeting ID on social media, which allows zoombombers to join, the safer option is for meeting hosts to generate a random Meeting ID and choose to require passwords. The Meeting ID may be shared online, with the password then provided to invited participants through direct messages.

Zoombombing may not be going away soon, but by changing up Zoom’s settings, employees may carry out their meetings with no worries of possible interruptions.

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Zoom, the company behind the popular videoconferencing software of the same name, has agreed to pay $85 million to settle a lawsuit regarding its privacy and security practices.

The suit was brought by users who accused California-based Zoom of sharing their data with third-party companies such as Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn without permission, as well as lax security that led to so-called "zoombombing" incidents where trolls would suddenly drop shocking images or other distasteful content into meetings.

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