Simple steps can shield Zoom sessions from unwanted disruptions

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Simple steps can shield Zoom sessions from unwanted disruptions

The campus entrepreneurship program begins Feb. 7, 2022, and participants may sign up individually or in teams of up to five people by Feb. 3.

Information Technology Services is reminding students, faculty and staff to follow preventative measures to protect Zoom sessions from unwanted disruptions.

Ultimately, following these simple tips will protect the campus community from unnecessary and potentially embarrassing interruptions during Zoom sessions — and allow participants to focus on the important information being presented.

Always appoint a moderator in large meetings

Designate a moderator to watch the participants panel closely and to monitor chat, video and audio. Be sure the moderator is familiar with procedures for removing disruptive participants and for locking the room to prevent their return.

A moderator should be watchful for guests who are using their video camera and microphones. In a large meeting with many participants, disruptive video participants may be near the bottom of the row of video users. This is good because they may not be seen by most participants, but it is potentially problematic if others see the disruption before the moderator can remove the user.

Moderators should scroll down the list of video users as the meeting is in progress so they are aware of any disruptive activity.

Meeting passwords

Set a strong password for all meetings and webinars. While this may not always be an option, it is highly recommended for sensitive meetings or discussions.

While scheduling a meeting, under “Meeting Options” check “Require Meeting Password,” then create a strong password. Any password should include at least eight characters, integrating at least three of the following types of characters: lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, symbols. Participants will be asked for this password in order to join the meeting.

The password will be included in the meeting invitation. If a meeting will include sensitive information, increase security by deleting the password from the invitation and sending it via text directly to each participant’s phone.

Disable “Join before host”

If scheduling a meeting where sensitive information will be discussed, leave “Enable Join Before Host” (found in the “Meeting Options” section while scheduling a meeting) turned to off. See Zoom’s Join Before Host help page for more information.

The “Join Before Host” option can be convenient for allowing others to continue with a meeting if the host is not available to start the meeting. However, with this option enabled, the first person who joins the meeting will automatically be made the host and will have full control over the meeting. Consider assigning an alternative host instead.

It is still possible for a meeting to start without the host, even with “Join Before Host” disabled if someone has “Scheduling Privilege,” which allows them to schedule meetings on the host’s behalf. When that person joins a meeting before the host, the meeting will start and they will be made the host. This is typically not a problem if the host is trying to prevent unwanted/uninvited participants from hijacking a meeting. After joining, the role of host can be reassigned.

Remove a participant

If a session has already begun and an unwanted attendee has joined, that attendee can be removed by following these steps:

  • If the Participants panel is not visible, select “Manage Participants” at the bottom of the Zoom window.
  • Next to the person needing to be removed, select “More.”
  • From the list that appears, select Remove.

Lock the Session

“Zoom Host Controls” allow the host or co-host to lock the meeting. Once all attendees have joined:

  • If the Participants panel is not visible, select “Manage Participants” at the bottom of the Zoom window.
  • At the bottom of the Participants panel, select “More.”
  • From the list that appears, select “Lock Meeting.”

Unlock the meeting following these same steps.

When a meeting is locked, no one can join, and the host or co-host will not be alerted if anyone tries to join, so it’s best not to lock the meeting until everyone has joined. Use this feature carefully.

It is important to consider the security implications of the Zoom meetings and properly secure any meeting if there is any discussion of high-level data. In addition, if it is a video meeting, it is important to secure the recording if there are minors involved or non-university participants.

Another important consideration is to make sure to properly account for the participants in the meeting. If, despite these precautions, someone shows up in the meeting that isn’t known, this should be taken seriously, because it’s possible that these incidents may constitute a phishing attempt to obtain confidential information or access to university services.

Click here to learn more about best practices and how to run safe, effective Zoom sessions.

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