Zoom Safety Guide


Zoom is, without a doubt, one of the most popular tools for online communication nowadays. The video conferencing app facilitates conversations of all kinds, from professional and educational collaboration to networking and casual meetings with friends and family. Unfortunately, the increasing use of these platforms has also opened the door to new forms of harassment. In this guide, you can learn what to do to face some of these threats and how to secure your meetings.

1. What does online harassment look like on Zoom?

The following are some examples of forms of harassment that have taken place on Zoom:

  • “Zoom-bombing,” a form of attack in which a video-conference call is disrupted, generally by Internet trolls or harassers, is one of the most recent and common tactics of abuse.

  • Since the global COVID-19 pandemic started in early March 2020, people and organizations across the U.S. have reported how some video calls have been interrupted with pornography, racial slurs, and other unwanted content. A Massachusetts-based high school informed the FBI that an unidentified individual accessed a zoom meeting and turned the video camera on to display swastika tattoos. There are also reports of hate-hacking groups organizing Zoom attacks against minority communities, including plans to hijack religious gatherings, lectures, and work calls. 
  • Online sexual misconduct: The era of Zoom calls has also opened the doors to online sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. These forms of abuse can include sending unwanted sexual content (images or videos), making inappropriate comments, or exposing someone’s genitals.

  • Cyberbullying: the migration to virtual learning also means that cyberbullying can migrate to the new online classrooms. Forms of abuse include sending cruel and mean private messages through the video conferencing platform.

2. What kind of behaviors are not allowed on Zoom?

The following are the behaviors that are not allowed on Zoom, according to its community policies:

  • Abuse 
  • Glorification of violence
  • Sensitive content
  • Suicide or self-harm
  • Violent extremist groups
  • Private Information
  • Spam 
  • Copyright, trademark, defamation, right of publicity, and impersonation
  • Illegal or certain regulated goods or services

Learn more here. 

3. What can I do to protect myself from online abuse on Zoom?

Securing your Zoom account and your meetings to prevent possible attacks could be one of the first steps you can take to protect yourself. Zoom is constantly announcing new measures and features for combatting meeting disruptions and other forms of abuse on the platform. Here are some of the key settings you should take into account:

  • Be careful with your personal meeting ID For public meetings, Zoom recommends not to use your Personal Meeting ID (PMI), which is the default meeting that is launched when you start a meeting from your account. Only share your PMI with people you trust and schedule new meetings for public ones to generate random meeting IDs. If possible, make sure that only invited attendees have the information to join your meetings.
  • Lock your meetings Once all your attendees have joined the call, it is recommendable to lock your meeting to prevent new and unwanted participants from joining the meeting. You can go to the security menu on the main menu bar to choose this option. 
  • Only allow registered verified users. When hosting public meetings, you can also require attendees to register with their email, name, and custom questions. To increase security, you can restrict your participant list to verified users, users from a certain organization, or whose email addresses use a certain domain. Learn more about this option here
  • Control what your participants can do Depending on the kind of meeting, you can restrict participants’ interactions and chat functions. For example, for meetings, the host can allow attendees to chat with everyone or with the host only. For webinars, you can disable the chat and allow attendees to chat with all panelists (including host) or all panelists and attendees. To enable these options, go to the Chat in the Meeting Controls, and at the bottom of the in-meeting Zoom Group Chat window, click More. Learn more here. You can also disable the chat and only allow the Q/A box. Keep in mind that with this option, only questions that are responded will be displayed for everyone. 
  • Turn off file transfer:
    If you enable the chat function, participants can share files, including images, videos, GIFs, or documents. To avoid exchanging unwanted content during your meetings, such as sexual material, you can turn off the file transfer option. Go to your Zoom account, select Settings, and scroll to the File Transfer option to disable. It is also recommendable to turn off the screen annotation and screen sharing options and disable attendees’ videos.

  • Mute Participants
    Zoom allows you to mute all participants and disable participant’s ability to unmute themselves. To manage your participants, go to the bottom of the participants list and click on the three-dot menu.

4. What can I do if my call is disrupted?

  • Remove Participants
    In case your video call is disrupted, Zoom allows you to remove an attendee from the meeting at any point. Click Manage Participants in the host controls to display the participant’s list. Hover over a participant, click More and then choose Remove. 

5. What else can I do to protect myself on Zoom?

6. What else can I do to report abuse on Zoom?

If you witness Zoom’s Community Standards violation, you can report it by using this form.

Sources:

At-Risk Meeting Notifier https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/360052087972?_ga=2.7028086.53939791.1609893742-1032399902.1583718614

Best Practices for Securing Your Zoom Meetings https://zoom.us/docs/doc/Securing%20Your%20Zoom%20Meetings.pdf

3 New Ways We’re Combatting Meeting Disruptions. November 16, 2020, https://blog.zoom.us/new-ways-to-combat-zoom-meeting-disruptions/

FBI Warns of Teleconferencing and Online Classroom Hijacking During COVID-19 Pandemic. March 30, 2020 https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/boston/news/press-releases/fbi-warns-of-teleconferencing-and-online-classroom-hijacking-during-covid-19-pandemic

Hate-hacking and Zoom ‘bombing’: Racism in the virtual workspace. June 23, 2020
https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2020/6/23/hate-hacking-and-zoom-bombing-racism-in-the-virtual-workspace

In-meeting security options https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/360041848151-In-meeting-security-options

Managing participants in a meeting https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115005759423-Managing-participants-in-a-meeting

Setting up registration for a meeting https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/211579443-Registration-for-Meetings?zcid=1231

Waiting Room https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115000332726-Waiting-Room