From pranks to porn, are hackers targeting your next Zoom meeting?

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From classrooms, to community groups and businesses to band practice, the COVID-19 pandemic is changing how we connect.

One of the ways many people have been connecting for is through the Zoom video conferencing program.

Zoom is becoming shorthand for meet with 32 million users a day.

But as more people flock to the platform, there are more concerns about privacy.

In recent days hackers have figured out how to disrupt meetings. The motives range from humor to hate.

When your boss or your teacher sends a link in a Zoom meeting, hackers have found those links and found a way to steal login ins and password information.

Cyber security expert Craig Lurey said it is a serious problem for sensitive business meetings.

“You may have Zoom settings that allow someone to join a meeting without your permission,” he said. “Hackers are trying to use it to their advantage. Or to listen into private conversations.”

But another issue that’s popped up in the last few days has given us a new phrase: “Zoom Bombing.”

David Goldenberg is the Midwest Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League.

“Zoom Bombing is when someone’s involved in a virtual meeting and someone infiltrates that meeting,” he said. “Usually taking over that meeting, displaying certain images that are usually hateful.”

“Zoom Bombings” range from pranks to pornography.

It even happened during a streaming news conference in which pornography popped up on the screen as health authorities and elected officials discussed the pandemic.

25th Ward Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez was one of the participants.

 “It’s a shame that we have to worry about things like this during an emergency when we’re all trying to work together,” he said.  “This platform especially is the only way some people have to contact their loved ones.”

Goldenberg said hate groups are actually using and exploiting the new technology. The ADL has tracked six dozen hate fueled “Zoom Bombing” incidents, including four in the Chicago area in just the last two days.

 “We’ve seen messages that say “Hail Hitler,” images of the KKK, and other terms like that are appearing now in these Zoom Bombing incidents,” he said.

The FBI is now warning zoom users to:

  • Make sure meetings are not public
  • Require participants to use a password.
  • Stop share a links on social media
  • Set “screen sharing” to “host-only” so images can’t pop up.

 “They’re trying to take advantage of a dangerous situation,” Goldenberg said. “And it’s really important that we come together as a community and say hate has no place here. And we’re going to come together and stop it. We’re going to stand up against it.”

One expert said that because we can’t go anywhere, the only place to go is online, so that will naturally bring a number of troublemakers.

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