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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.
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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
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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15th April, 3pm UK
How to improve your virtual classroom, with Speexx
20th April, 5.30pm to 7pm UK
Zooming to the future: what's next for virtual classrooms? with CIPD Manchester Branch