Live Meetings with Zoom
One of my favourite programmes was Spooks. Seemingly capable of logging into anything, it was done speedily and without much thought. Hacking Zoom is the new reality. But it doesn’t involve hacking. It just involves knowing slightly more than someone else. Like the cabinet office press releasing screenshots of a Zoom call clearly showing the meeting ID.
Schools Week reports that an online conference of headteachers was 'zoombombed' last week and that shocking pornography was unleashed on the viewing leaders. This has been happening a lot.
I think that when we hastily set stuff up, we don't always think about the potential negative consequences. This is especially true of anything internet-related. If you have never live-streamed, there is a lot to think about. It's not like Spooks, or picking up a telephone.
Zoom is the market leader and like any market leader will attract more 'bad actors' than other products. In March, Zoom added 2.22 million users worldwide; in the whole of 2019, it grew by 2 million. In other words, more people joined over the last month than in the whole of 2019. I suspect many of those had never used a remote platform before.
The main issue is that each zoom meeting needs just one code. It has 13 million users. By just inputting random numbers, eventually you’ll join a meeting, particularly at the moment when it is being used so much world-wide. For some, this is too much temptation, and a challenge.
It’s basically like ringing a random phone number. Eventually it will ring and someone will pick up. Trawling social media will probably throw up a few genuine numbers in either upcoming meetings or screenshots.
For example, if you were a Church running a Zoom prayer group, you might publicise it on social media or on your website. This is an open door to be zoombombed. That’s not the fault of Zoom.
In the 70s, I remember my church had some kids who dared each other to burst in at the back during services, shouted what were then regarded as obscenities and ran out again. The adults just locked the door. That’s all people need to do in Zoom. That and use a password.
Safer use of Zoom
From today (5th April 2020), Zoom are forcing users to password protect their meeting room. This is an important first step. Other things to do to protect your Zoom space are:
Use a new meeting room each time (ie. don't use the personal meeting ID)
Don't allow attendees to join before host
Mute attendees on joining
Turn screen sharing off
Set up a 'waiting room'
Lock your meeting room after you have started
Don't publicise your meeting's link on social media
Don't share the screenshot of everyone, especially when it show the meeting ID
Try to have someone who's job it is to 'manage the room' and focus just on doing that.
Tell people what the Plan B is (ie. if you do have to abort the meeting where will the meeting move to and how can people rejoin)
Avoid sharing personal information
Turn off your video and microphone, unless it's needed.