'Zoom-bombing': FBI warns some teleconferences, online classrooms vulnerable to hackers

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The FBI on Monday warned of a nationwide rise in so-called “Zoom-bombing,” or video hacking, as more people have turned to video-teleconferencing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent weeks, the bureau has received multiple reports of conferences – and in some cases, online classrooms – being disrupted by pornographic, hateful images or threatening language.

Meeting image with CS-700 and Zoom.

Meeting image with CS-700 and Zoom. (Business Wire via AP)

Last week, a high school in Massachusetts reported that someone dialed into the classroom while a teacher was conducting an online class, the FBI said. The individual shouted profanities before leaving the teacher’s home address.

A similar incident played out another school in Massachusetts this month: an individual could be seen on a conference call displaying swastika tattoos.

A spokesperson for Zoom told Fox News that the company has taken the security of its meetings seriously and was “deeply upset to hear about the incidents involving this type of attack.”

The company added that it encouraged users hosting large, public group meetings to review settings for their safety and report incidents to its support team so it could “take appropriate action.”

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As a safety precaution against such incidents, the FBI has issued a set of guidelines to implement while conducting a video-teleconference.

When using Zoom for online classrooms, teachers are advised to making meetings private and require a password or use the waiting room feature to control the admittance of additional people.

Links to a teleconference or classroom should be sent directly to individual participants and never be publicly available on a social media post.

Lastly, those managing a conference in Zoom should change the screen sharing option to “Host Only.”

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Americans have increasingly used Zoom and Skype to carry out some semblance of a normal routine while stuck at home during the coronavirus epidemic. In the past month, these platforms have been used for religious ceremonies, schools and even dates.