How to safely host public meetings on Zoom without being interrupted by uninvited attendees.

What is Zoom-Bombing?

Zoom-bombing is the term for when individuals "gate-crash" Zoom meetings. These uninvited guests share their screens to bombard real attendees with disturbing or distracting content. Most attacks exploit publicly available Zoom links. Depending on your personal settings, however, some ostensibly private meetings may also be vulnerable. Below are a few strategies that ensure your meetings are not disrupted.

Hosting Public Events on Zoom, Safely

If you share your meeting link on social media or another public location, anyone with the link can join your meeting. You may, however, occasionally require a meeting link (for office hours, for instance) that is open to a broader community of students than just one class. Here are some tips you can use to help when a public meeting space is necessary:

Steps to take when scheduling the meeting

  • Avoid using your Personal Meeting ID (PMI) to host public events. Your PMI is essentially one continuous meeting, and people can pop in and out all the time. Learn about meeting IDs and how to generate a random meeting ID. Full video tutorial

  • Add registration to your meeting so attendees must provide an email address which is attached to a Zoom account.

  • Require authentication so attendees must log in with their Zoom account before entering the meeting.

  • Enable the waiting room within your meeting settings to control who comes and goes and to give you a moment to do things like restrict participants' ability to share their screen or to use the chat before you admit attendees into the meeting. This can be done when scheduling via Zoom on the web, or when scheduling from your Zoom desktop application.

  • Familiarize yourself with Zoom’s settings and features. Understand how to protect your virtual space when you need to.

Steps to take after you start the meeting

The set of options below is available within Zoom's in-meeting security controls that allow you to quickly modify participant permissions for all participants. To access these options, click on the Security icon in the Zoom app's controls to:

  • Lock the meeting
  • Enable or disable the waiting room 
  • Hide Profile Photos
  • Allow or restrict Screen sharing 
  • Allow or restrict Chat
  • Allow or restrict Renaming themselves
  • Allow or restrict Unmuting themselves 
  • Allow or restrict Starting video
  • Remove Participant(s)
  • One-click option to immediately Suspend [all] Participant Activities

Note: a checkbox to the right of an option indicates the option is currently enabled.

Read on for a list of Zoom features that prevent unwanted interruptions. 

Managing Screen Sharing

The simplest way to retain control of screen sharing in a Zoom meeting is never to give it up in the first place. To prevent random people in your public event from taking control of the screen, restrict sharing to yourself

You can do this before or during the meeting by using the host controls at the bottom of the interface. Click the arrow next to “Share Screen”, and then select “Advanced Sharing Options.” Under “Who can share?” choose “ Host Only” and close the window. You can also lock the Screen Share by default for all your meetings in your web settings.

Managing Participants

In addition to the quick in-meeting Security controls that take effect for all participants, Zoom provides options for restricting the participation of individual attendees or fine-tuning the meeting activities to add more nuanced control for how attendees participate.

When a meeting is in progress, the host can

  • “Lock” the meeting: When you lock a Zoom Meeting that’s already started, no new participants can join, even with an approved meeting ID and password. During a meeting, click “Participants” at the bottom of your Zoom window. In the Participants pop-up, click the button that says “Lock Meeting.”

  • Remove unwanted or disruptive participants: From the same “Participants” menu, hover your mouse over a participant’s name. Several options will appear, including “Remove.” Click that to kick someone out of the meeting.

  • Allow removed participants to rejoin: When you do remove someone, they can’t rejoin the meeting. But you can toggle your settings to allow removed participants to rejoin, in case you boot the wrong person.

  • Put attendees in the waiting room: When a host suspends participant activities, attendees’ video and audio connections are disabled momentarily. A host can also put individual participants in the waiting room to suspend their activities in the meeting. To do so, click on someone’s video thumbnail or hover over their name in the participants list, click on the "More" menu button, and select “Put in Waiting Room” to activate this feature. Click “Admit” in the More menu  when you’re ready to have them back.

  • Disable attendees’ video: Hosts can turn anyone’s video off. This allows them to block unwanted, distracting, or inappropriate gestures on video.

  • Mute participants: Hosts can mute/unmute individual participants or all of them at once to block unwanted, distracting, or inappropriate noise. You can also enable Mute Upon Entry in your settings to reduce confusion in large meetings.

  • Disable private chat: Zoom has in-meeting chat for everyone, but participants can also message each other directly. Restrict participants’ ability to chat privately while your event is going on to limit distractions that may reduce engagement by participants.

Before starting a meeting, the host can

  • Turn off file transfer: In-meeting file transfer allows participants to share files through the chat interface. Toggle this off to keep the chat from getting bombarded with unsolicited images, GIFs, or other files.

  • Turn off annotation: You and your attendees can annotate a screen share to mark up content. You can disable the annotation feature in your Zoom settings to prevent disruptive misuses of this feature.

Adding a Waiting Room 

One of the best ways to use Zoom for public events is to enable the Waiting Room feature by default, which will take effect for all newly-scheduled meetings that have Unique Meeting IDs. As its name suggests, the Waiting Room is a virtual staging area that prevents participants from joining until you’re ready for them. Meeting hosts can customize Waiting Room settings for additional control, including with a unique message to alert users that they’re in the right place or set guidelines for the meeting. To set up a waiting room, consult the following instructions:

  1. Sign in to your account in the Zoom Web Portal and access the “Settings” tab. 

  2. Click on the “In Meeting (Advanced)” option.

  3. Search or scroll to find the “Waiting Room” option. 

  4. Toggle the button next to “Waiting Room” to enable this feature.

  5. After enabling the Waiting Room feature, you can choose either to send all participants to the Waiting Room when they join or to send only external accounts there. You can also allow approved participants to admit guests from the Waiting Room if the host has not yet arrived to the meeting.

The host can also choose to enable or disable a waiting waiting room for an individual meeting by scheduling the meeting through Zoom on the web, or via the Zoom app scheduling option.

Learn more about waiting rooms

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