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As videoconferencing becomes the norm, FBI warns of 'Zoom-bombing'

There have been numerous incidents of Zoom chat-rooms being hijacked by trolls.
Computer laptop

With work-from-home becoming the default for more employees in the U.S., the use of videoconferencing has presented an opportunity for trolls and hijackers.

It's given rise to what the FBI and others are referring to as "Zoom-bombing," a reference to the popular video chat service Zoom, which has become increasingly used by businesses, schools and friends to stay connected during the COVID-19 shutdowns.

There have been multiple reports of uninvited individuals accessing video conferences and displaying pornographic or racist images, as well as using threatening language.

And while in many instances the perpetrators are your run-of-the-mill internet trolls, groups like the Anti-Defamation League are concerned it's also being used by extremists to target groups with hate speech. 

Recent examples include a virtual Torah lesson being interrupted by people sharing antisemitic images, while a school board meeting in California was scrapped after someone shared a Nazi flag and swastika.

Another example in Massachusetts saw someone interrupt a high school class by yelling profanities as well as the teacher's home address.

The FBI is advising those hosting Zoom sessions to take precautions to prevent their events being hijacked. This advice includes:

– Not making meetings or classrooms public, using the setting in Zoom to make a meeting "private" that requires a password. Alternatively, use the "waiting room" feature that allows the host to control the admittance of guests.

– Do not share a link to a Zoom meeting on an unrestricted, publicly available social media post. Instead, provide the link direct to people privately.

– Change screensharing to "Host Only" so the host is the only person whose screen can be seen.

– Use the most up-to-date versions of video conferencing applications. Zoom, for example, has recently updated its software to make passwords a default for meetings and disabled the ability to randomly scan for meetings to join.

You can find more tips here courtesy of Zoom, including how to generate a randomized meeting ID when setting up meetings.

The two videos below also have more information:

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