Since the pandemic started, churches have been finding creative new ways to meet when illness prevents regular in-person gatherings. Some are live streaming their church services, some are prerecording and posting services, and some are using video conferencing like Zoom to allow for two-way communication during services.
Each online meeting method has its tradeoffs, but Zoom bombing, in particular, has caused significant issues for some churches using the video conference method.
Whether you’ve seen Zoom bombing in action or you’re concerned about protecting your church from it, we’re answering some common questions about what it is and how to prevent Zoom bombing at your church.
What is Zoom bombing?
Zoom bombing, sometimes called “Zoom raiding,” is when unwanted people join a video conference call. After joining the call, these people often present inappropriate—and alarming—material.
Zoom bombing has increased around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, given that more people are using video conferencing software to connect with their friends, family, and church.
It’s become so serious that even the FBI has been called to investigate this form of internet hijacking.
How does Zoom bombing happen?
Zoom bombing happens when internet “trolls” gain access to your meeting link or ID number. Often, they use search engines to look up vulnerable meetings with no security measures in place. Sometimes these meeting links are given to hackers from insiders—invited participants who want to disrupt the session.
Do Zoom bombers target churches?
Churches are one of many organizations Zoom bombers target. They also target schools, universities, and major companies.
Bottom line: if you don’t use proper security in your Zoom meeting, you’re a potential target for Zoom bombers. (We’ll explain how to make sure your meeting is secure in just a moment.)
What should I do if my church gets Zoom bombed?
The best thing you can do if your church meeting gets Zoom bombed is to end the meeting at the first sign of any inappropriate images or sounds. If you’re the meeting host, this will automatically kick everyone out of your meeting—both the hijackers and your legitimate attendees.
While this works in a pinch, the only way to prevent future incidents is to put the below security measures in place.
How do I protect my church from Zoom bombing?
Zoom provides many ways to protect your meeting. Here are a few that can stop hijackers in their tracks.
1. Make sure your Zoom application is up to date
This is the most important place to start.
To use most of Zoom’s security features, you need the latest version, available to download from Zoom’s website. If you already have Zoom installed, click your avatar in the upper-right corner, then click Check for Updates.
2. Don’t use your Personal Meeting ID
Your Personal Meeting ID should only be shared with people you trust. Your ID is your private meeting room that’s always open and can be joined by anyone at any time. If you’re scheduling a meeting with a large group or someone you don’t know, consider generating a random ID that’s different from your personal one. This will prevent your Personal Meeting ID from being exposed to unwanted guests.
3. Use a passcode
Setting a passcode for your Zoom meeting is easy—and it’s one of the most effective ways to lock down your meeting. Here’s how to do it.
- Schedule a new meeting in the Zoom app.
- Check the “Passcode” box.
- Enter a passcode, which can include letters, numbers, or symbols.
4. Use a waiting room
A waiting room is another easy way to secure your Zoom meeting. You can enable the waiting room in the same area as the passcode.
- Schedule a new meeting in the Zoom app.
- Check the “Waiting room” box.
When someone joins your meeting, this is what they’ll see:
As the host, you’ll see the waiting room in the participants panel. From this panel, you can either “Admit” or “Remove” someone from the meeting. The person in the waiting room cannot interact with your meeting in any way until you admit them.
5. Know your advanced security options
While having the passcode and waiting room features enabled may be enough to secure your meeting, there are even more ways to lock down specific aspects of your room.
1. While the meeting is in progress, click the Security button located on the bottom taskbar.
2. From here, you have several options to choose from. They’re all pretty self-explanatory—just enable (or disable) the ones you care about.
3. Next to the Share screen button, click the little arrow.
4. Click Advanced Sharing Options.
5. Here you have even more control over who’s allowed to share their screen.
6. Take special note of the “Who can share?” section. If you’re the only one giving the presentation, you can check Only Host to allow only yourself to share your screen.
Want even more security options?
If you’re a paid Zoom user, you have even more security features available to you. You can find those features here.
What alternatives to Zoom can I use for my church?
Zoom is by far the most popular meeting application on the market today, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t others out there. There’s Cisco WebEx, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams, just to name a few. Each has security nuances to be aware of, and one isn’t more secure than the other. The decision on which meeting app to use all depends on the features you see as important to your church.
And while not as many people know about it, you have yet another option—it’s from Faithlife, and it’s free. When you create a free group on Faithlife for your church, you can video chat with one person or your whole church group.
Create your free Faithlife group today, and give it a try!