Is Your Zoom Meeting Being Hacked? Here's What You Need to Know

How to tell if Zoom hackers have invaded your space—and what to do about it.

With offices around the world closed by the coronavirus pandemic, Zoom meetings have replaced face-to-face interactions for millions of workers suddenly navigating the world of remote work. However, unlike your average boardroom, virtual meeting rooms are susceptible to numerous digital threats—including hackers. In fact, on Mar. 30, the FBI released a report indicating that "Zoombombing"—or hacking into video meetings—was on the rise.

So, how can you tell if your meeting has been infiltrated by hackers? "The most sure sign that your Zoom meeting has been hacked is if there is an extra participant that you don't recognize," says cybersecurity expert Ted Kim, CEO of Private Internet Access. Kim says that other clear signs of an intruder are unwelcome screen shares and disruptive noises in the meeting.

Unfortunately, in an effort to gain access to sensitive information, hackers may also use sneakier tactics, like remotely activating a previously disabled camera, screen recording a meeting that's already taking place, or covering up information being presented. While it may be impossible to eliminate all the internet's trespassers, there are plenty of ways to keep your meeting safe. Here's what experts recommend to keep your Zoom meeting from getting hacked.

Use waiting rooms

Setting up a Waiting Room prior to your Zoom meeting can help ensure that only the guests you've invited are joining your session. Under the Settings menu, enable the Waiting Room feature.

"When scheduling a new meeting, you should then be able to select 'Enable waiting room' in the Meeting Options," says cybersecurity trainer Stacy Clements, owner of tech consulting firm Milepost 42. Once it's time for the meeting to begin, you can then admit only the participants you want to allow in.

Adjust your screen sharing settings

If you want to keep outsiders from sharing their own contributions in your meeting, make sure only the meeting's host can present.

"Simply go into Settings, click on Screen Sharing, then Advanced Settings, and click the host only," explains Gabe Turner, director of content at cybersecurity website

Keep meeting passwords unique

Similar to what you should be doing to protect your other online accounts, you'd be wise to use unique passwords for each Zoom meeting. Turner recommends making each password "long and complicated," and suggests using a password manager to create and store passwords, using at least two-factor authentication to keep your sensitive information safe.

Don't share meeting information on social media

While it may be easy to quickly disseminate information using social media, doing so can put your meeting at risk for intruders.

If you're posting links to your meetings on social networking platforms, "anyone who has access to the meeting link can join," explains Clements. If you need to get your meeting information out, send it via email or a secure messaging platform to only the guests you want to join.

Log in using a web browser

If you want to protect your meeting, try using a web browser to log in.

"[Digital security company] Kaspersky has noted that the web version is more secure than the app," explains Nick Turner, chief privacy officer of tech security company Echosec Systems.

Keep users from renaming themselves

Nobody likes a catfish. Want to make sure that everyone in your meeting is who they say they are?

Lee Gimpel, founder of Better Meetings, a meeting design, facilitation, and training company in Washington, D.C., recommends preventing participants from changing their names. To do so, use the Security button in the host toolbar. "Being able to lock down these controls prevents [people] from being disruptive and limiting the damage they can do," explains Gimpel.

Use a virtual background to obscure your location

You may have sensitive information in the background of your home that hackers could use to steal your identity or otherwise cause trouble. To mitigate this risk, Kim recommends using one of Zoom's virtual backgrounds during your meeting. "There's no sense in letting others see your private space if they don't need to," he explains.

Remove participants

If you're having trouble once your meeting is underway, there's one last resort: Kick out the folks disrupting things.

"You can click on an individual in the Participants window and remove someone that way, or go through the security menu to see a choice of attendees to remove," says Gimpel. And if you want to make the most of every meeting going forward, brush up on The Dos and Don'ts of Effective Video Conference Calls.

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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