Education, Tech

Zoom calls can be hacked – here’s what you need to know

4 ways to prevent being hacked.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Apr 4, 2020

Just last week, I was attending a pay-what-you-wish Zoom workshop by New York Times Magazine writer Jamie Keiles. The session had more than 170 people logged in, and midway through our host’s screen got hacked. The intruders projected porn and began using predatory language.


I’ve since learned that this is called “Zoombombing.”


The session was only live for 5 minutes before this happened. I was thinking about how perhaps there’s value in moving online, and feeling like the possibilities were now endless: there were so many things to learn without having to abandon the comfort of my own couch. It’s perhaps a dream come true, right? But as it turns out, Zoom – while offering a great quarantine service – might also be doing more harm than good.


The Zoom app is designed to allow for holding video conference meetings with a big number of people by clicking on a web link. But the same feature can also be abused by hackers to spy on Mac users via the webcam. The app has been downloaded “more than 50 million times” in recent weeks and has had security flaws in the past. Researchers found that hackers can spy on users via their webcams because of a glitch or bug in the app’s code.


Since we’d like to keep using the app, here are four things you can do to keep hackers out of your Zoom call.


1. Make your invites private & refrain from posting the links on social media.

It is very tempting to post links to Zoom meetings on social media or take a screenshot of the link to pass around, but this is how an invite can reach intended targets. Instead, opt for emailing the participants the link directly from the Zoom app.


2. Avoid using your Personal Meeting ID.

You can use a Personal Meeting ID (PMI) for every Zoom meeting but anyone can get a hold of the link to your personal meeting room and drop in to disrupt things. It’s better to generate unique IDs for your meetings.


3. Set a password.

Make your meetings password-protected and you won’t run into trouble. Zoom can generate a password for each scheduled meeting and share that password as part of the invitation.


4. Keep screen sharing off.

Turn off screen sharing in the advanced settings section. This is where the “bombing” part of Zoombombing comes in. When screen sharing is turned on, anyone can hack the screen/meeting and display their own screen, so to be on the safe side, just don’t off screen sharing if you are able to.