Zoom now scans social media to spot ZoomBombing before it happens

Zoom has released a new scanning tool that hunts down publicly-shared meeting IDs, aiming to warn of potential "Zoombombing" incidents before they take place. The attacks – where uninvited participants join video calls, often sharing obscene content to disrupt meetings – have proliferated over the course of 2020, as online conferences take the place of in-person meetings.

It's proved to be a disruptive issue, and while Zoom isn't the only video calling service available, its rise in prominence and the ease of joining meetings if you have the ID has made it a common victim. Earlier in the year, Zoom's team promised they were working on new ways to better handle Zoombombing and more, and now it's detailing them.

The Zoom At-Risk Meeting Notifier effectively goes hunting for publicly-shared meeting IDs itself, but to flag them not troll them. It scans social media posts and websites, Zoom's Matt Nagel, Security & Privacy PR Lead, explained today.

"When the tool detects a meeting that looks to be at high risk of being disrupted, it automatically alerts the account owner by email and provides advice on what to do," Nagel says. "These steps could include deleting the vulnerable meeting and creating a new one with a new meeting ID, enabling security settings, or using another Zoom solution, like Zoom Video Webinars or OnZoom."

"For example," Zoom says, "if a given meeting is posted about many times or with certain known disruptor hashtags, we may flag it to you as being at high risk of being disrupted."

Best practice, though, is to avoid sharing meeting details – including ID or passcode – publicly at all, if possible. If you do get an email from the service, Nagel points out, you should act on it, since Zoom itself won't automatically block unwanted participants.

To deal with that, you'll have to take matters into your own hands, and Zoom has added new moderation tools to make ousting disruptive callers easier. A new "Suspend Participant Activities" button, for example, will instantly put everything on hold – pausing video, audio, in-meeting chat, annotation, screen sharing, and recording, and ending Breakout Rooms – and then bring up the dialog to report a user. It's available to both free and paid Zoom users, in the client apps for desktop and mobile, with web support coming later in 2020.

As for individual participants, they can now report disruptive users and trolls themselves. Account owners and admins will need to enable reporting capabilities for non-hosts, however, first.