Google Meet adds zoombombing protection for education customers

Google will block anonymous users from joining Google Meet video conferences organized by G Suite for Education customers.

Google Meet

Image: Google

Google will block anonymous users from joining Google Meet video conferences organized by educational institutions, such as schools colleges, and universities.

The new security feature, announced earlier today, will prevent users who are not signed into a Google account from joining and then disrupting a Google Meet conference organized by an educational organization.

Since the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many schools have been forced to hold classes online, on video conferencing platforms, and have been often interrupted by pranksters.

In many cases, attending students share links to their online classroom (video conference) on Discord channels, Reddit, or Twitter, and ask pranksters to crash their class so they can leave earlier.

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Image: ZDNet

This type of behavior is commonly referred to as "zoombombing," where anonymous users connect to video conferences to disrupt meetings by playing loud sounds or pornographic videos, or hurling insults and making death threats.

The name is derived from the Zoom video conferencing software but the term is now generally used to refer to similar user behavior on all types of video conferencing platforms, not just Zoom -- the platform where it was initially spotted.

In other cases, zoombombers have gone even farther than interrupting classes and have also disrupted local and federal government meetings across the US.

These constant disruptions to local meetings eventually forced the Department of Justice in April to go public with a press release threatening to prosecute zoombombers.

Zoom rolled out multiple features to protect meetings against zoombombing disruptions earlier this spring but Google has lagged behind, despite having a large market share in the educational sector, where it offers Google Meet under G Suite for Education and G Suite Enterprise for Education licenses at discounted prices.

But in a G Suite changelog entry today, Google said it's now enabling a new feature that will block anonymous users from joining Google Meet conferences organized by educational organizations.

The feature will be turned on by default for all organizations with a G Suite for Education and G Suite Enterprise for Education license over the next 15 days.

Google said there's no way the feature can be disabled unless administrators personally contact Google to have it disabled, in the event they don't need the protection.