Safeguard Your Online Classes and Meetings

Zoom logo with cartoon bombs

Overview

We want all of our online class sessions or team meetings to be effective and productive. When an outside party "crashes" your online event, this can be disruptive and unwanted.  This issue can happen to any online meeting platform where someone might interrupt by sharing unwanted content through screen sharing, video, or the microphone.  This is commonly known as "meeting hijacking" or, if done with Zoom, it's called "Zoombombing."

To better protect your confidential online classes or meetings, please consider the suggestions on this page.

Discussion vs. Disruption

A class without communication tools does not offer an active learning environment.  It's also difficult to collaborate as a team when only one person can speak or share content. On the other hand, a townhall, distinguished speaker event, or information session may want to focus all attention on the content with limited audience involvement. So, as meeting organizers, we need to decide what type of event we are holding, our overall goals, and our intended audience. Based on these elements, we can decide which features or security measures to use in our online meetings for the best experience.

Be Mindful of Where You Publicize Your Meeting

You increase the risk of unwanted guests if you post your meeting details online.  Be careful about posting the "join" details of an online event to websites, social media, or other publicly accessible sources.

  • Share the meeting link to only the intended participants.
  • Ask participants to not share the meeting details beyond the intended audience (class, team, colleagues, etc.).
  • Avoid posting the meeting link, PIN, ID, and/or password on social media or public sources.
  • Consider using a secure service, e.g. a learning management system, to share or post the links or meeting details.  The "Zoom Pro" tool in Courses is one example.
  • In a Google Calendar invite, consider unchecking the "Invite Others" option (if appropriate) and verify that the calendar is not set to "Make available to public."

Zoom Meeting Settings

We have to balance security with functionality.  Review the options below and make the best decisions for your needs. We recommend that you consider a "dry run" with a colleague before your official class or meeting to verify that the settings match your desired outcomes.

Setup: Controlling Attendance When Creating a Meeting

  • Waiting Room: The Waiting Room is enabled by default in our institutional instance of Zoom.  With this feature, the host admits one or all participants from the waiting room into the class or meeting session.  This is one method to reduce the chance of "meeting crashers."  It can also be extremely helpful for faculty holding online office hours sessions (to preserve student privacy).
  • Set a Meeting Password: To protect class sessions, we recommend that you add a password that participants must enter to join your meeting.  If you choose this option, a random numeric password will be generated.  You could share the main meeting details more broadly and then distribute the password to only your audience.  Explore the Schedule Send feature in Google Mail to automatically email your attendees the day of your event or even moments before to improve security.
  • Evaluate "Join Before Host" Option: The option of "Enable join before host" can be very helpful if you trust all attendees to be professional and you have not publicly shared the meeting details.  This way, students or colleagues can connect online and communicate before you join the meeting yourself; they will have the ability to screen share, use their mic, and share their webcams.  If you don't enable this feature, then users will not be permitted into the meeting until you start it.  Attendees are presented a "Please wait..." message with the scheduled start time until you arrive.  Of course, in this more protected scenario, you can always assign an alternative host so that a trusted colleague can start the meeting in your absence.
  • Set Screen Sharing to "Host Only": By default, all new meetings should be set to "Host Only" for screen sharing; if not, consider implementing this setting. This will prevent others from hijacking the screen sharing feature during your class or meeting. You can always change this option during a live meeting to allow participants to share their screens for important interactions, e.g. student presentations.
  • Only Authenticated Users Can Join Meetings: This option prohibits anyone who isn't using a registered Pepperdine University Zoom account that is signed into the Zoom app from attending your meeting.  Not all community members have registered properly for a Pepperdine Zoom account, so this may stop legitimate attendees from attending your class or meeting.  Therefore, use this feature with caution and educate your attendees on the proper methods of signing out of any non-Pepperdine Zoom accounts (web and app!), signing into their official Pepperdine account, signing into the Zoom app, and accessing your meeting.
  • Mute Participants on Entry: This meeting setting can help reduce audio issues but will also mute microphones for all attendees as they join the room.  The ability to allow participants to unmute themselves can be disabled by the host or co-host within the meeting (see the next section below).
  • Enable/Disable File Transfer: To prevent participants from sending unwanted files during a meeting, a host can disable the feature.
  • Keep Your Personal Meeting ID Private: While it may be convenient to have a single meeting link, it also opens your meetings to more chances for unwanted guests.  Consider sharing your Personal Meeting ID with trusted colleagues and otherwise creating unique meetings (or recurring meetings) rather than reusing your Personal Meeting ID for all meetings.

Live: Controlling In-Meeting Participation

  • In-Meeting Security: The Security button in the host's toolbar allows you to quickly enable/disable common security features including Lock Meeting, Waiting Room, and participant options to Share Screen, Chat, and Rename Themselves.
  • Collaborate with a Co-Host: You can either assign an alternative host or upgrade a participant to the "co-host" role to help you manage your live meeting.  The main host might lecture or speak while the co-host can manage chat, participants, etc.
  • Enable/Disable Screen Sharing: To prevent others from screen sharing, the host can share their screen or disable the option for attendees to share their screens. Of course, for student presentations or collaboration, the screen sharing option is vital. As the host, you may wish to keep the default recommendation of "Only Host" in the beginning and then allow others to screen share when appropriate during the session.
  • Mute All Participants: Zoom has a quick way to mute everyone with the "Mute All" feature for hosts or co-hosts. This can be helpful if there is unexpected feedback in the space, someone has forgotten to mute, or if there is an unexpected or unwanted guest in a public meeting.
  • Enable/Disable "Allow participants to unmute themselves": If you do not want any standard meeting attendees to use their microphone, you can deselect the option "Allow participants to unmute themselves." Of course, a class or meeting without a means for discussion is not really a class or a meeting; you risk boredom and disengagement.  Assess your purpose and your audience and turn on/off the feature accordingly.
  • Remove Unwanted Participants: In Zoom, open the Participants list. Select the unwanted participant, select "More," select "Remove."  Unless you have enabled the option to allow removed users to return, that specific account will not be able to rejoin the meeting.
  • Put Someone in the Waiting Room: If you are using the waiting room feature and there is someone in a meeting that you still want to connect with (but you need privacy for the moment), you can send them temporarily to the waiting room. The best practice if you choose this approach is to alert the person or people verbally of this intended action so they know what to expect and that you'll get back to them later.
  • Enable/Disable Chat: To prevent participants from sending chat messages to "Everyone," a host can limit or disable chat functionality for standard participants.  A host might want to allow participants to chat with the "Host Only" to solicit private ideas or answers, or select "No one" to completely stop standard participants from sending Chat messages during a live meeting. Again, a class or meeting without a means of communication is not an engaging experience. Always weigh your purpose against the options for discussion or distraction.
  • Stop Participant's Video: If someone has accidentally (or purposely) turned on their webcam and you do not want the video to display, you can use the "Stop Video."  After doing this, the participant will no longer be able to share their webcam until you choose "Ask to Start Video."
  • Lock Meeting: Once a meeting is underway, the host can "Lock" the meeting like locking a door to a conference room.  Be very careful with this option, however.  If you lock an online class or meeting, no new participants can join your session.  So, if someone is late, they will be barred from entry.  Also, it can impact any of your participants that have less than perfect internet service; if they drop and need to reconnect, it may prevent them from returning.

Zoom Recording Access

On either individual meeting recordings or your personal user settings for future meetings, you can implement various methods to safeguard your cloud recording sessions.

Google Meet Settings

By default, Pepperdine Google Meet sessions are limited to members of Pepperdine University.  You may invite outside participants, however.

  • Admit or Deny Entry: When an external user attempts to join a Pepperdine Google Meet session, the Pepperdine participants will be presented with a prompt that someone is asking to join.  The prompt will list the person's account name and ask whether to "Admit" or "Deny entry" for the person.

We hope that these options will help you better manage your online classes or meetings.

Additional Resources