Listen up! 'Zoombombing' is a real thing and it can happen to you too

02 April 2020 - 07:00 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Hackers on Zoom have found ways to hijack meetings, interrupt educational sessions or post white supremacist messages.
Hackers on Zoom have found ways to hijack meetings, interrupt educational sessions or post white supremacist messages.
Image: 123RF/stockbroker

Working from home has surged amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with remote conferencing app Zoom quickly becoming the video meeting app of choice.

In many countries under lockdown, the app has become the go-to video platform for calls, online classes and social-distancing parties.

However, it has now come under fire in the US over privacy and hacks.

The app, according to a New York Times report, has been under scrutiny for its data privacy and security practices.

This is after internet trolls exploited a Zoom screen-sharing feature to hijack meetings, interrupt educational sessions or post white supremacist messages. This is called “Zoombombing.”

Social media users who experienced this hacking warned many to be careful while using the app – using the hashtag #Zoombombed.

Sunday Times reported that hackers Zoombombed a Massachusetts high school, which reported that an unidentified individual dialled into the virtual classroom and yelled a profanity at the teacher before shouting the teacher's home address.

Another school in the same state reported the appearance of an unknown person with swastika tattoos.

In response to the incident, Zoom's chief legal officer Aparna Bawa said the app prioritised the security of Zoom meetings and was deeply upset to hear about the incidents involving these types of attacks.

“Privacy is an extremely important topic and we want you to know that at Zoom we take it very seriously,” said Bawa in a statement.

“Your meetings are yours. We do not monitor them or even store them after your meeting is done, unless we are requested to record and store them by the meeting host.

“We alert participants via both audio and video when they join meetings if the host is recording a meeting, and participants have the option to leave the meeting.”

Zoom also shared tips on its website on how users could avoid being Zoombombed.

The company urged users to report such incidents immediately so proper action can be taken.


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