coronavirus

‘Zoom Bombing’ is Real and Could Happen to You: FBI

The FBI is warning users of Zoom and other teleconferencing platforms that they could fall victim to hateful cyber attacks

NBCUniversal, Inc.

ZOOM is that teleconferencing platform made popular during stay at home orders worldwide. Now the FBI is warning users their meetings and virtual family time could be interrupted by pornography and hate speech.

Zoom's popularity, at least in part, is a product of how easy it is to use. There is nothing to buy and you can even use it without downloading the app.

The FBI wants participants to know that without protective controls like passwords and screen share locks, you might as well be meeting in a crowded room. Jerry McCormick, the vice president of the San Diego Association of Black Journalist, wants people to know to.

Last Wednesday, hackers interrupted McCormick's Zoom meeting, with east coast members.

I was hurt. I was deeply hurt. I'm not going to lie to you.

Vice President of the San Diego Association of Black Journalist, Jerry McCormick

"They were saying 'We're taking over this meeting.' Then started hurling racial slurs at us," McCormick said.

First it was just voicing, then pornographic images started to appear on participants' screens. 

"We're under a crisis right now. Some of us are fighting for our lives. Someone is so bored they decide to do something like this," McCormick said.

Stay at home orders forced business meetings, journalists, and even family celebrations into the virtual world where it's safe from the coronavirus, but apparently not from outsiders looking in.

"Technology can be a force of good or a force of bad," McCormick said.

The FBI is warning Zoom and other teleconferencing users to take precautions, like requiring a meeting password or use the waiting room feature to control the admittance of guests; and providing conference links directly to specific participants and not on social media.

"I feel deeply sorry for you that you have nothing else going in your life that you have to do this, but, me, I got work to do," McCormick said.

The FBI is urging cyber conference users to report hackers and any direct personal threats to the bureau's crime complaint center.

“We are deeply upset to hear about the incidents involving this type of attack. We take the security of Zoom meetings seriously and in order to prevent such incidents from occurring, we strongly encourage users to arrange their settings so that only hosts can share their screens," a Zoom spokesperson said.

For a guide to best practices from Zoom, click here.

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