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Zoom Is Scanning Social Media for Signs of Impending Zoom-Bomb Attacks


(Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Zoom has been scanning social media posts for Zoom meeting links—a sign that bad actors are preparing to infiltrate and hijack the video session—and will notify users if it believes their meetings are in danger of being Zoom-bombed.

The scanning is part of a new “At-Risk Meeting Notifier,” which the company began implementing this fall. “When the tool detects a meeting that looks to be at high risk of being disrupted, it automatically alerts the account owner by email and provides advice on what to do,” the company wrote in a blog post. 

The scans compare your video meeting’s ID against any Zoom meeting information that’s been publicly posted on the internet. How frequent the company is crawling the web was left unsaid. So it’s possible the alert system won’t be fast enough to preemptively warn you about planned Zoom-bombing.

“(But) for example, if a given meeting is posted about many times or with certain known disruptor hashtags, we may flag it to you as being at high risk of being disrupted,” the company said. 

If you do receive an alert from the At-Risk Meeting Notifier, Zoom will recommend you schedule a new meeting with a different ID, and enable certain security safeguards, such as the Waiting Room feature, which can help you filter out strangers. 

“If you would like to keep your meeting public, we strongly recommend that you convert the meeting to a webinar, because a webinar will give you control over who participates with video, audio, chat, and screen sharing,” the company added. 

Zoom didn’t reveal which social media services it’s been scanning. But in the past, students have shared meeting IDs for their remote classes by posting them on Reddit, Twitter, and TikTok in the hopes that hijackers will crash the video sessions. Zoom-bombers have also conspired in chat servers on Discord by collecting and listing data on upcoming video meetings they can hijack. 

If your meeting does get disrupted, Zoom on Monday also introduced a new “suspend participant activities” feature to the app, which can pause the video session before things get out of hand. 

A video meeting host can access the feature by clicking the “Security Icon” button. The session will then temporarily come to a halt. In the meantime, the host can report and remove the disruptive Zoom participant before restarting the video meeting. 

“When the meeting is suspended, all video, audio, in-meeting chat, screen sharing, and recording will stop during that time, and breakout rooms will end,” the company added. “Once the host or co-host has reported a user, they may re-enable the features they’d like to use.”

When a Zoom user is reported, the company’s trust and safety team will review the incident and decide whether to permanently block the offending user from the service. 

Previously, only meeting hosts could report a disruptive user, but on Monday Zoom created a new option to let meeting participants also report misbehaving users. “Account owners and admins can enable reporting capabilities for non-hosts in their web settings,” the company said.

Enabling the function.

(Credit: Zoom)

Once enabled, any regular meeting participant can report a user by clicking the top-left Security Badge icon during a video meeting. 

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