Benign Zoom crashers plague online classes


Lucy Hanson

As students log into their Zoom classes, the risk of a crasher looms.

Lucy Hanson, Staff Writer

A common problem of virtual learning is the concept of Zoom crashing. This is where users who were not invited to the Zoom room join and cause a disruption. Another concept is Zoom bombing which is when a crasher posts profanity, graphic videos, or other content not safe for work or school. 

BSM is aware of these hackers and is prepared to go about these situations if there was to be a crasher. “We have only had 8-10 complaints since the beginning of the school year which is very successful considering how many Zoom rooms we have running each day,” Dr. Steve Pohlen, Director of Learning & Technology, said.

Zoom has waiting rooms set up to prevent unwelcome visitors from joining the zoom. “Students can only enter one of two ways: if a student is logged into their Zoom application with the BSM school account, they skip the waiting room and go right in, or the teacher has to let them in. The goal of this is that teachers should be able to see if there is an unwanted guest in the waiting room and refuse to let them in,” Pohlen said.

There are lots of stories shown on social media of students, oftentimes from different schools, joining Zoom links that have been sent to them and causing disruptions. Waiting rooms have stopped many of these, but Zoom crashers can change their screen names in an attempt to hide their true identities. However, BSM has not had any huge disturbances. “The examples I’m aware of have been pretty minor: students yelling something and leaving or adding silly things to the chat. It appears the incidents have involved people connected to students at the school. We have amazing students so generally things that happened have been benign,” Pohlen said.

Because of the technology in use, it’s not easy for Zoom crashers to hide their identities. “We are able to see an incredible amount of data behind the scenes like IP addresses, what device someone is on, location, join time, etc. Also, people often make mistakes that give away their identity. This has helped us follow up on some of the incidents and figure out who was involved,” Pohlen said.

Tech Republic announced that there are new ways to prevent Zoom crashers. They announced that Zoom introduced that hosts can pause a meeting while they remove the crasher. Also, there is a new web-scanning tool to seek out meeting links. Technology continues to advance everyday, and in the future there will be little to no Zoom crashers.