As many universities and student-orgs continue an all-virtual format, more people are using virtual meeting host sites like Zoom than ever before. But bad actors can force their way into classes and meetings to interrupt them, and, for example, use racist language that is harmful to meeting participants. It’s such a problem that the FBI issued a warning on it this March.
This means that it’s important to make online meetings as secure as possible, which is challenging given that most organizers want their spaces to be easy to join and well-attended. Here are a few tips that meeting organizers should set before their events to prevent such harmful interruptions.
1. Don’t post the meeting link anywhere on social media! This makes your link public to anyone online, and bad actors can copy and paste your link and organize an interruption in chat rooms. Instead, ask members to message you for the registration information, or create an online form which allows you to email your event information to attendees on a private email list.
2. Prevent participants from unmuting, sharing the screen or using the chat feature. These settings are under the ‘security’ button. You can change this later during the meeting for activities, but keep it switched off at the beginning so uninvited guests can’t take over and derail the event.
3. Lock the meeting after a certain time. Hosts can lock their meeting after, say, 15 minutes to give attendees enough time to enter. The lock meeting setting is also under the ‘security’ button. This is another step that prevents trolls from randomly entering and wreaking havoc.
4. Don’t use a personal meeting ID for public meetings. Switch to a ‘generated automatically’ meeting ID that is unique every time you schedule a meeting, and share this information with your followers. If your personal meeting ID is copied and pasted by someone else, this means that someone can theoretically join your meeting anytime.
5. Don’t let the attendees you kicked out rejoin. You can do this by clicking on “disable removed participants from rejoining.”
Unfortunately, most of us are unaware of these features until after the damage has been done, and it takes time to discover all of Zoom’s features. It’s best to use these tips ahead of time, or better yet, make them default on your Zoom account. Consider creating a Zoom account just for your organization that has these features pre-set.
For more information, check out these resources: