Hackers attacking online meeting platforms

Published: Apr. 2, 2020 at 11:51 PM CDT
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“A lot of them actually are just anyone can get in," said Benjamin Traynor, a student at UND who us now attending lectures via Zoom. "I think they are just constantly trying to figure that out, because you know, when a random guy pops up into your zoom lecture and starts yelling, it gets a little hectic.”

The FBI is calling it "Zoom- bombing". It's when uninvited trolls crash Zoom meetings.

“Someone would invite a couple of buddies into one of our business lectures and they’d all be drinking beer and showing their case of beer," added Traynor. "Just typical college stuff.”

For Traynor, it was more of a nuisance, but there have been more aggressive cases lately: strangers showing up with hateful messages or profanity. It's prompting the FBI to issue a warning to anyone who uses Zoom.

“It’s full-featured, you do need to take a little extra time and go through the settings and look to see how you can best enable your privacy and ensure your productivity," said Brian Crommett from 702 Communications, adding that there are plenty of safety features available, you just need to know how to use them.

“There are controls in each meeting to allow people to speak when they first join, to allow people to share content, to allow people to chat. If you’re at all unsure about who might be in something like that, turn all of it off and have people talk directly to you," said Crommett. "And you can kick people from meetings too.”

Plenty of schools use Zoom, including Fargo Public Schools. It's now a platform for their distance learning during the pandemic. In a statement, they say, "teachers are encouraged to verify student identity before joining the class, the private chat feature is turned off, teachers can control video and audio, and can also disconnect any disruptive students with a click."

If you know of a "Zoom-bombing", report it to police. The founder of Zoom says K-12 schools can now use an additional security feature called 'The Waiting Room', which allows them to see who is joining and restrict anyone. This feature is available to everyone.