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How and Why to Block Zoom-Bombing

First the how. Here are our recommendations for preventing Zoom-bombing.

First and foremost, consider whether Zoom is the right tool for you. If you can minimize your use real-time video while achieving teaching goals, please do. Beyond that all classes should take the following steps. We bullet those steps here and explain why to take these steps and not others.

Smaller classes (where all student names are recognizable to you) should:

  • Create a “waiting room”  where the teacher manually grants permission at the beginning of class to students waiting for entry.
  • Only use this if your class is small and all students are recognizable to you.
  • If you can verify all students in this way, you do not need additional steps.

Failing this, all classes should:

  • Add a password
  • Disable screen-sharing by participants (can enable it when needed)
  • Set “Who can share” in advanced sharing options to “only host”
  • Set chat option “Participant Can Chat With” to “Host only”
  • When sharing a screen (option appears then) set “Disable participants annotation” from the “More” options. (Important!)
  • Mute all participants on entry

Why these settings?

Waiting room. Why do we recommend a waiting room vs. a password for small classes?

  • Students may forget/mistype password and miss class.
  • Students who distribute links to outsiders may also distribute passwords. Passwords can provide a false sense of protection.
  • That said, it you’re unable to verify users by glancing at their names, managing a waiting room, and especially latecomers may be difficult.

Add a password. Even when a link is not publicly posted, bots (always-running software on the internet) can scan and find open Zoom sessions to join. Passwords help prevent these sorts of attacks.

Screensharing. Online trolls take over screensharing and use it to blast pornographic, racist, sexist and other forms of vulgar content. Removing this will prevent this most popular form of trolling.

Who can share. Online trolls can post obscene files or (potentially) malware in chat.

Chat with host only. Online trolls can use private messaging to harrass students in your class through private messages that you as an instructor cannot see. These messages can be used to prompt a reaction from a student that is then filmed with screensharing software and shared on social media for further ridicule.

Annotation. Students can annotate slides you show, and while there are benefits to that it also allows trolls to draw vulgar content on your slides (again, often of a racist and sexist nature).

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