As society became more dependent on the video-sharing and collaborative meeting platform Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic, something detrimental was bound to happen. Businesses use Zoom and other similar platforms to host meetings remotely, and schools often use it to host classes when operating out of the building. Security and professionalism are crucial when using it for such purposes, but not everyone shares these sentiments.
Enter Zoombombing, which happens when an unwanted visitor drops in on your meeting, like your typical party crasher. While this occurrence may seem harmless at first, it can prove to be downright frightening and harmful, especially in the instances where the unwelcome visitor spews hatred to the detriment of everyone involved.
Once someone gets into your Zoom meeting room—not necessarily through hacking, just through the loose security restrictions on the room—they may have complete control over what they can say or do in front of everyone else depending on the settings the host has chosen to enact. Once in your room, the Zoombomber may share something vulgar on their screen or shout obscenities and other foul language. To an inexperienced host, it can take quite a while to ban the user. Then, depending on the room settings, they may be able to reenter the room until the host changes it to ensure that people who are kicked can’t join the meeting again.
Why anyone would choose to do this kind of activity is anyone’s guess. Many people seem to think that Zoombombing happens because the perpetrators love to laugh at the shock value of it. By saying hateful things on camera or spreading harmful or disgusting images, they can reap some form of happiness from the repulsion everyone else displays.
Your room may have gotten Zoombombed for several reasons. Rest assured that most of these Zoombombers are not professionals—they just know how to exploit unsecured rooms to worm their ways in and shock random people. It isn’t quite clear how certain rooms are targeted for Zoombombing, but it’s been a significant enough threat that the FBI is aware and has posted guidance for hosting meetings on the massive video-based platform.
Your room may have been found on social media or another public forum. If you share your rooms publicly for any reason, whether password-protected or completely private, people can easily find their way into your room. From there, they can wreak all sorts of havoc. Luckily, Zoom has taken measures to stop Zoombombing in its tracks. In addition to beefing up its security measures to help hosts understand who could threaten their meetings, Zoom agreed to pay $85 million to settle a lawsuit claiming it violated users’ privacy rights by sharing personal data with Facebook, Google and LinkedIn. It also had to give some of its subscribers a 15 per cent refund on their subscriptions.
Unfortunately, there may be no way to completely stop Zoombombing from happening, as people will continue to find their way into unsecured private Zoom meeting rooms. The best way to safeguard your own Zoom meetings is to refrain from sharing your meeting link publicly. You can share it privately or directly with the people who need to access the meeting. Either option is better than posting it publicly, even if it’s on a company’s social media account.
If you want to take extra security measures to protect your meeting from unwanted visitors, try tinkering with these settings:
– Requiring a password: By choosing a password, no one will be able to access your room without the correct password.
– Automatically muting attendees: Since Zoombombers like to enter in a blaze of flames, automatically muting them can stop their plan in its tracks.
– Turn off screensharing: By ensuring that only the host can share their screen, you eliminate the option for Zoombombers to drop in with an offensive video.
– Open a waiting room: A waiting room ensures that all users have to wait for manual approval from the host to enter the room.
While these aren’t the only security settings you can implement to safeguard your meeting room, you should feel decently safe with all of them in play. Zoombombing usually happens to rooms that aren’t secured through Zoom’s settings, so the more settings you play with, the greater the chance that Zoombombers will leave your room alone.
Since the pandemic, cyber-related crimes have risen 600 per cent. This occurrence may have resulted from more people spending time at home and being, well, bored. More people rely on technology than ever before, especially since not every workplace has gone back to normal just yet. Internet trolls may have started targeting Zoom as a result, but you don’t have to fall victim to Zoombombing. Keep your rooms as secure as possible and host the meeting or class your attendees deserve.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, many have made the abrupt shift to working from home, while millions of others lost their jobs altogether. At the time, the future looked bleak—we didn’t know when, or if, our societies would return back to normal. All we could do was speculate about the kind of scars the pandemic would leave.
Fast forward to November 2021, and although the clouds of uncertainty seem to have cleared out with offices reopening their doors to their employees, a large majority of the world’s workforce carries on working from home for the time being.
As most of us have experienced it, working from home has its perks as well as its disadvantages—not having to commute while living with blurred work-life boundaries are two examples of the contrasting qualities that come with such a novel way of life. In an attempt at clarifying the latter’s need for balance, Portugal will soon introduce new labour laws approved by the country’s parliament.
Under the new rules, employers could face penalties for contacting workers outside of office hours. Companies will also have to help pay for expenses incurred by remote working, such as higher electricity and internet bills. Last but not least, employers will also be forbidden from monitoring their employees while they work at home.
The new rules are also good news for parents of young children, who will now have the right to work from home without having to arrange it in advance with their employers, up until their child turns eight years old. Measures to tackle loneliness are also included in the remote working rules, with companies expected to organise face-to-face meetings at least every two months.
That being said, a proposal to include the so-called “right to disconnect”—the legal right to switch off work-related messages and devices outside office hours—was rejected by Portuguese MPs who have instead decided to force employees to only contact their staff in times of emergency.
Portugal was the first European country to alter its remote working rules as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2021. The temporary rules made remote working a mandatory option (with a few exceptions) and obliged employers to provide the necessary tools for getting the job done at home.
But the amendments to Portugal’s labour laws have limits: they will not apply to companies with fewer than 10 employees. And while remote working during the pandemic has brought renewed flexibility to many, issues such as unequal access to IT equipment proved the need for the government to step in, Portugal’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho, told the Web Summit conference in Lisbon last week.
“The pandemic has accelerated the need to regulate what needs to be regulated,” she said. “Telework can be a ‘game changer’ if we profit from the advantages and reduce the disadvantages.” Building a healthy remote working culture could also bring other benefits to Portugal, Mendes Godinho added, in the form of foreign remote workers seeking a change of scenery. “We consider Portugal one of the best places in the world for these digital nomads and remote workers to choose to live in, we want to attract them to Portugal,” she told the Web Summit audience.
Such changes in regulations in Portugal could soon lead the way for other countries to follow—making working from home just a tad more pleasant for employees worldwide.