As Zoom use has increased, so has Zoom bombing. What is Zoom bombing, you ask? Well, hackers have found ways to get into Zoom meetings and take over certain controls. This can be scary, especially for teachers who are trying to protect students in an online learning environment. Luckily, there are ways to secure your Zoom classroom to protect your students from Zoom bombing. In this post, I’ll go step-by-step through the four additional layers of security that I have been adding to all of my Zoom meetings.
If you are looking for even more information about using technology in the classroom, be sure to download my FREE guide all about the right ways to use technology to teach.
What is Zoom?
Before we dive into the ways to secure your Zoom classroom, let’s talk about what Zoom is. Zoom is a video conferencing software that is similar to programs such as Skype and Google Hangouts. It allows two or more people to connect through video for any length of time. Participants can also share their screen as they talk.
I have been using Zoom for years to lead teaching webinars and collaborate with curriculum developers on projects, but I know using Zoom to teach remotely is new to many teachers. Learning any new program is overwhelming and it is easy to forget things like security features. With Zoom bombing on the rise, it is more important than ever to make sure you are adding these additional security layers to your Zoom classroom. So, here are my top four tips for securing a Zoom meeting.
If you are a more visual person, like me, I’ve also created this video where I walk you through the steps of installing each of these security layers inside of Zoom.
1. Require a Password to Join Zoom Meeting
One of the easiest ways to secure your Zoom classroom is by creating a password. When students click the link to join the meeting, they will have to enter a password to be able to join the meeting. No one can enter the meeting without first entering the correct password.
You will choose to add a password when you are scheduling a meeting. To make sure the password setting is turned on, scroll down to the “Meeting Password” section when creating a new meeting. Make sure the small box is checked next to “Require meeting password.” To the left of “Require meeting password,” is a larger box. This box contains the password that students will type to enter the meeting. Zoom will automatically generate a password (usually a numerical password), but you can change the password to anything.
When you send out the meeting invite that has the link for students to join the Zoom meeting, make sure you also provide students with the password. You can also post the password in a secure place such as Google Classroom.
TIP: When creating a password, take into account your students’ age and ability level. Create a password that will be easy for your students to enter.
2. Wait to Send Meeting Invites and Passwords
I am the type of person who prefers to plan things in advance. My personality wants to create all my Zoom classroom meetings a month in advance and send one email to students with all the links and passwords they will need for the month. Unfortunately, this is not the best option when it comes to securing your Zoom meetings.
I still create all my meetings in Zoom about a month in advance, but I wait to send the invites and meeting passwords to students until it is almost time for the meeting. I make sure students know to expect an invite and password from me about 24-48 hours before the meeting begins. This prevents the link and password from being out in the open for too long and having another person get ahold of it.
TIP: Use this as an opportunity to teach your students about Internet safety. Remind students never to share their passwords with other people.
3. Set Up a Virtual Waiting Room
One of the best ways to secure your Zoom classroom is by creating a virtual waiting room. A virtual waiting room gives you control over who can enter your online classroom. As students click the link and enter the password to join the meeting, you will see their names appear in a list. Then, you will manually choose whether or not to allow each person into the Zoom classroom. If you see a name on the list that you don’t recognize or that looks suspicious, you do not have to let that person into the meeting.
I created a video that walks you through the steps of creating a virtual waiting room and manually admitting students once the meeting has started.
TIP: When students enter their first Zoom classroom, Zoom will prompt them to create names for themselves. Make sure students know to input their real names or a name that you assign to them. This will ensure you can easily recognize them and admit them into the Zoom classroom.
4. Lock Your Zoom Meeting
The last tip I have to prevent Zoom bombing is to lock your meeting. After the Zoom meeting has started, you can lock the meeting at any time. When a meeting is locked, no more people can enter.
To lock your Zoom meeting, click “Manage Participants.” This icon is located along the bottom of the screen in the toolbar. If you do not see it straight away, toggle your mouse and the toolbar should appear.
After clicking “Management Participants,” a bar will appear on the right side of the screen that shows a complete list of all the people in the meeting. At the bottom of the screen is a “More” button. Click that button.
Select “Lock Meeting.” You will then be asked to confirm your decision. At any time, you can reverse your decision by going through the same process and clicking “Unlock Meeting.”
With this option, students who arrive to the meeting late will not be able to get in. I recommend waiting about 5-10 minutes before locking your online classroom, but make sure students know they must arrive on time to be able to enter the session. Another thing to consider is that if students get kicked out of the meeting due to a computer error, they will not be able to get back in unless you unlock the meeting.
TIP: Make sure to record your Zoom classroom sessions. This will allow students who are unable to attend or who get kicked out of a meeting to catch up on what they missed. I explain how to set your Zoom meetings to record in the following video.
Don’t let Zoom bombing scare you from using Zoom! When using technology, there is no guarantee that everything will go perfectly. But, there are ways to secure your Zoom classroom so that you can minimize any potential threats.
If you are looking for more information about using Zoom to teach, I’ve created a Zoom tutorial series with everything teachers need to know. You can also learn more about using technology in the classroom with my FREE guide.