zoom phone

Video Conferencing Software Zoom Faces Scrutiny Over Hacks, Abusive Behavior During Meetings

The spread of “Zoombombing,” or hijacking a meeting room with abusive images or speech, has grown in scope as more Americans turn to teleconferencing for classroom instruction and workplace meetings.

As more Americans use video conferencing software to connect with coworkers, friends and family during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most popular platforms, Zoom, has faced several complaints from customers who have had their conferences “hijacked” by hackers.

The practice, also referred to as “Zoombombing,” has happened with several virtual classrooms and workplace meetings that did not have password protections for the meeting room and had their meeting room links available online.

The FBI’s Boston office issued a warning this week about the potential for hijacking after receiving several reports of “conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language.”

One school in Massachusetts reported an incident where an unidentified individual dialed into the classroom, yelled a profanity and shared the teacher’s home address in the middle of the meeting. Another teacher reported that an unidentified individual appeared in their Zoom meeting room with visible swastika tattoos.

“As individuals continue the transition to online lessons and meetings, the FBI recommends exercising due diligence and caution in your cybersecurity effort,” the warning reads.

In a press statement, Zoom has said that it takes the security of its software seriously and that employees are “deeply upset” to hear about these types of attacks.

“For those hosting large, public group meetings, we strongly encourage hosts to review their settings and confirm that only the host can share their screen,” the company, which has faced criticism for cybersecurity issues in the past, said. “For those hosting private meetings, password protections are on by default and we recommend that users keep those protections on to prevent uninvited users from joining.”

The questions around Zoom’s cybersecurity practices and use of personal data have been escalated by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). The senator sent a letter to Zoom CEO Eric Yuan on Tuesday to seek information on Zoom’s protections against security threats and “abuse” of its services.

“The millions of Americans now unexpectedly attending school, celebrating birthdays, seeking medical help, and sharing evening drinks with friends over Zoom during the Coronavirus pandemic should not have to add privacy and cybersecurity fears to their ever-growing list of worries,” Blumenthal wrote.

New York Attorney General Letitia James sent a similar letter this week. Blumenthal has requested answers to his questions, which include inquiries about Zoom’s collection of personal data, use of “end-to-end encryption,” and policies against abusive behavior, by April 14.

In the meantime, users can report incidents of Zoombombing to the company so staff can take “appropriate action,” the company said. Victims of teleconference hijacking or any cyber crime can report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. The FBI offered other tips on preventing Zoombombing, including not sharing links to meeting rooms on unrestricted social media posts where trolls and hackers can find them.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

Featured

  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    7 Ways You Can Secure a High-Traffic Commercial Security Gate  

    Your commercial security gate is one of your most powerful tools to keep thieves off your property. Without a security gate, your commercial perimeter security plan is all for nothing. Read Now

  • Making Safety and Security Intrinsic to School Design

    Public anxieties about school safety are escalating across the country. According to a 2023 Gallup report, 44% of parents fear for their child’s physical safety at school, a 10 percentage-point increase since 2019. Unfortunately, these fears are likely to increase if the incidence of school tragedies continues to mount. As a result, school leaders are now charged with two non-negotiable responsibilities. The first, as always, is to ensure kids have what they need to learn, grow, and thrive. Sadly, their second responsibility is to keep the children in their care safe from threats and physical danger. Read Now

  • The Power of a Layered Approach to Safety

    In a perfect world, every school would have an unlimited budget to help secure their schools. In reality, schools must prioritize what budget they have while navigating the complexities surrounding school security and lockdown. Read Now

  • How a Security System Can Enhance Arena Safety and the Fan Experience

    Ensuring guests have both a memorable experience and a safe one is no small feat for your physical security team. Stadiums, ballparks, arenas, and other large event venues are increasingly leveraging new technologies to transform the fan experience and maintain a high level of security. The goal is to preserve the integrity and excitement of the event while enhancing security and remaining “behind the scenes.” Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

Webinars

New Products

  • HD2055 Modular Barricade

    Delta Scientific’s electric HD2055 modular shallow foundation barricade is tested to ASTM M50/P1 with negative penetration from the vehicle upon impact. With a shallow foundation of only 24 inches, the HD2055 can be installed without worrying about buried power lines and other below grade obstructions. The modular make-up of the barrier also allows you to cover wider roadways by adding additional modules to the system. The HD2055 boasts an Emergency Fast Operation of 1.5 seconds giving the guard ample time to deploy under a high threat situation. 3

  • Camden CV-7600 High Security Card Readers

    Camden CV-7600 High Security Card Readers

    Camden Door Controls has relaunched its CV-7600 card readers in response to growing market demand for a more secure alternative to standard proximity credentials that can be easily cloned. CV-7600 readers support MIFARE DESFire EV1 & EV2 encryption technology credentials, making them virtually clone-proof and highly secure. 3

  • FEP GameChanger

    FEP GameChanger

    Paige Datacom Solutions Introduces Important and Innovative Cabling Products GameChanger Cable, a proven and patented solution that significantly exceeds the reach of traditional category cable will now have a FEP/FEP construction. 3