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Hi all,

Jo and I were presenting a webinar for the eLN and it was Zoom bombed!

Zoom bombing has unfortunately started to get attention as more and more organisations and individuals look for live online virtual solutions.

*EDIT Help links in posts below this*

What is it?

Zoom bombing is where a group of people find your room link perhaps through social media or your website. They then, en masse, join your session and use whatever tools you leave available to them to cause havoc.

In our session we had people joining with offensive usernames, using swear words including racist language on the mic and in chat, plus using the annotation tools for what you don’t need a very active imagination to guess what they were drawing. 

This article from The Guardian goes into more details with other examples - Guardian article.

How does it happen?

In a nutshell, the basic settings in Zoom when you first get it are quite open for allowing access to users. Which makes sense, it is a platform for connecting people!

It also allows in certain situations depending how you setup the platform to allow access to people who you don't want in the session! Just like, unfortunately, Jo and I had in the session.

Because of the current world situation, more people are using Zoom and more people have free time on their hands to try and ruin it for everyone else.

How it made us feel

Being honest, it was panic stations to start off with. Jo and I were trying to kick people out of the session as quick as we could. The more we kicked people out the more they flooded in.

Whilst trying to do this they were using their microphones with all types of foul language being used and so on. To say it was stressful at that moment would be an understatement!

It quickly became obvious we needed to end the session as control had been lost. The eLN were great, they quickly had a new session created with a password and had contacted all the registered attendees with the new link.

We were up and running again within 5-minutes and could continue the session. An investigation is still going on to determine exactly what happened, the main point is that the webinar went ahead and was not stopped!

Jo, to her credit, did amazingly with supreme grace under pressure. Even with a challenging start, plus time lost, she completed the session on time.

It did put Jo under pressure to get everything back on track and the fear of a looming invasion once again was on our minds.

Jo's adrenaline was pumping as she tried to deliver and catch up on lost time. I was like a hawk looking at the participants panel ready to pounce on anyone entering the session with nefarious intent!

I would be lying if I said it did not impact what we intended to deliver. It took Jo some time to get back into smooth delivery mode. My usual involvement in the chat window was limited as I had more than one eye glued on who was entering the room.

How to stop it from happening?

For tips from Zoom themselves on how to make sure this does not happen: Securing your virtual classroom - Zoom blog

Summary

I hope our experience can be a good learning point for you all so that you won't need to deal with the situation like we did.

I want to thank the eLN for being great and getting the session back up and running, plus the perseverance and understanding from the attendees who came back and finished the session.

Have a look at our reflection whiteboard to see how adversity can be overcome in these trying circumstances, not just from a virus like Covid-19 but people intent on causing havoc also!

 

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Replies

  • Joan Keevill is the Chairperson of the eLearning Network and has written this LinkedIn article about the experience of the session.

    https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:66507625035947...

    Joan Keevill posted on LinkedIn
    Today I found out what it's like to be '#Zoombombed'! This is when trolls hack into a Zoom meeting or webinar you've set up - today&#…
  • Thanks Mike for sharing this, including the article and details from Zoom. I hope everyone double checks their Zoom account level settings!

    You are right about the adrenaline pumping! It hit us really quickly. As you say, we were trying to wrestle it under control and what you all couldn't see were the menus popping up on my screen. Attendees can request to share or request screen control, so that was happening. What they hope is that in the confusion I accidentally click yes and they can create even more havoc! 

    Also, I was trying to remove the guilty parties in the participant panel. However everytime I identified one to remove, another joined or unmuted, and the way Zoom works is to move them to the top of the list, and it changes who I was clicking on. 

    In the end the only thing to do was to shut it down. 

    Mike's right, it took me a while to settle into the session again after that - perhaps I was speaking ten to the dozen, but we covered the material and I felt we still had a good conversation. I did my best to keep calm and carry on :D

    As Mike says, thanks to the eLN (specifically Joan and Asli) to get up and running again and all the attendees to make it work despite the start. Thanks also for Mike, really highlighting why you need a good producer! 

    • A truly horrible experience but one we can all definitely learn from. Thank you for sharing what you experienced on your screen too, and what you were doing to combat the situation, really helpful to know.

      As a participant, it was reassuring to know we were in good hands. I'm so pleased the team was able to turn a new meeting around so quickly and we were able to continue with the planned session which turned out to be a super interactive session. Thank you! 

  • *Update* 

    Coronavirus: Zoom under increased scrutiny as popularity soars

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52115434

    Zoom under increased scrutiny as popularity soars
    The New York attorney general has written to the videoconferencing company about its security measures.
    • Thank you for the update Mike :-)

  • Oh my goodness. This sounds horrendous.

    Thank you so much for making people aware. Surely the security settings should default as high and allow the host to reduce them as needed rather than the other way around. What a scary way to learn about the importance of locking down your session. Well done Jo, getting through that session. I think I'd be rocking in a corner somewhere.

    I'll be sharing out to all of our team as I know we've been improvising on how we keep in touch with eachother during this time. some of us have been combining nearpod with zoom to increase engagement. 

    This post may well have saved us from the same situation.

     

  • Crumbs! And there I was, getting worked up about a frozen chat panel... Poor you Jo and poor you Mike, that must have been a dreadful experience. Sounds as though you all handled it brilliantly and passed the test with flying colours. 

    As a newbie to delivering virtual meetings/training, I'm constantly building my checklist of things to do on setting up the session, immediately before, during and after. I'll be adding to it thanks to your advice - thank you for sharing.

    Dawn

  • Another update, this time from Zoom.

    Video Meeting Platform Zoom Addresses Criticisms As It Sees Explosive Growth In Users

    NPR article link

    Video Meeting Platform Zoom Addresses Criticisms As It Sees Explosive Growth In Users
    Zoom's founder and CEO addressed some of the company's growing pains as the service saw an unexpected surge in the number of users when people began…
  • Hi Jo and Mike.

    How to Keep Uninvited Guests Out of Your Zoom Event. Possible article of interest from the Zoom blog page here:

    https://blog.zoom.us/wordpress/2020/03/20/keep-uninvited-guests-out...

    BW. Darryl

    How to Keep Uninvited Guests Out of Your Zoom Event
    We love that so many people are finding Zoom to be an easy way to stay connected in this time of social distancing, school closures, and work-from-ho…
    • Thanks!

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