Securing Your Zoom Classrooms
One of the most popular resources being used to educate during the COVID-19 pandemic is Zoom, a free mobile and desktop app for video and audio conferencing. Zoom offers an Education Plan allowing educators to utilize special features like unlimited meeting time and LMS integration. When the COVID-19 outbreak shut down schools internationally, Zoom saw a massive increase in membership, growing from 10 million users in December 2019 to 200 million as of March. Zoom became a household name for online education in a matter of weeks.
However, with Zoom’s newfound popularity came complications with security and privacy of meetings. Most recently, hackings called “Zoom-bombings” have become more commonplace, mainly interrupting educational meetings such as screen-sharing explicit images and videos, or insulting or hurling death threats at meeting participants. These Zoom-bombings are sometimes even organized or requested by students themselves on social media platforms like Reddit, Discord, and Twitter, allowing hackers to infiltrate a Zoom meeting.
In early April, the U.S. Department of Justice declared Zoom-bombing to be a federal crime. Zoom has since implemented a security update with new features to better control how meetings are conducted.
Here are some of the best ways to customize security for future educational lectures, discussions, or tutoring sessions:
1. Set a Password for Your Meeting
One of the easiest ways to secure your meeting is by setting a meeting password. Passwords can be customized or randomly generated, but for optimal protection, it is best to both randomly generate and change the password frequently. That being said, password entry is most useful for limited class sizes. For a tutoring center that needs all students to access sessions without using too many passwords simultaneously, this may pose an issue. To reduce confusion, password entry should be used only for group sessions with a different password per tutor.
2. Set Up a Waiting Room
As of March 31, Zoom’s Waiting Room feature was turned on by default for every meeting. The Waiting Room allows the host of a meeting to admit or deny entry to prospective participants using two options. The “All Participants” option sends everyone to the Waiting Room, where the host can admit entry individually or all at once; the “Guest Participants Only” allows only known, expected participants into the meeting and sends unknown, unaffiliated participants to the Waiting Room to be manually admitted or denied. Regardless of the option, the participants’ names and profile pictures are visible to the host when checking the Waiting Room. This feature can be enabled for meetings at the scheduling level in your web portal’s advanced account settings under “Account Management” or during a meeting through the Security feature. Learn how to access and customize the Waiting Room with this article from Zoom Support.