Zoom-bombing: FBI warns of rise in teleconference hijacking amid stay-at-home order

The Zoom video-teleconferencing app seems to be everywhere today, as people turn to an online environment for classes, events, meetings or even a good-old-fashioned family dinner.

Recent events have pushed school staffers to reunite with students virtually, as online classes become part of their daily schedules.

The FBI warns that criminals and pranksters have also taken notice of Zoom’s popularity and are now interrupting conferences with pornographic images and aggressive language.

In late March, two Massachusetts-based schools reported such incidents to the FBI Boston Division. In one complaint, an individual infiltrated an online classroom for high school students, and started using foul language then broadcasted the teacher’s home address.

In the second report, another individual showed himself on camera and displayed his swastika tattoos in the middle of a virtual lesson.

And other reports are circulating around the Internet. More and more uninvited guests are hijacking online gatherings across the United States.

Seems like privacy issues are stacking up for the video-conferencing platform. Last week, the company removed a Facebook SDK on iOS after reports that the app was sending out details about users’ devices, whether or not they had an account.

How can you secure your Zoom Experience?

To avoid any unwelcome interruptions during your Zoom meeting, there are simple ways of tweaking your app settings to ensure no outsiders are looking in:

Lock your Zoom session – after all participants join the classroom or meeting, you have the option to click on the Lock Meeting button. Do it, so nobody else can get in and disrupt the meeting.
Control screen sharing – Zoom has recently released an update for the screen-sharing settings of Education accounts, which is now set by default to “Host Only”.
Ask for registration before starting your meeting or class – with this option you can see the email of everyone who signed up for the session. You can evaluate your attendees more easily.
Allow only authenticated users to join your ‘party’ – For example, only members who are signed into their Zoom account can access your online class.
Password-protect the meeting – it’s best not to make your online meeting public. If you choose to set up a password, only people who know it can join.
Don’t share teleconference links publicly – you can prevent any outsiders from snooping in on your meeting or class by not posting the link on social platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.

Remember, if your classroom or video conference is hijacked, you should immediately report the event to the authorities. You can file a complaint directly on the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

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