Video conferencing, the new target of cyber attacks


Ceri Weber just start your dissertation when all hell broke loose: echoes and voices disrupted. Someone was repeating his words in a tone of mockery. After he started playing music of Britney Spears and someone said to Weber to shut up. Someone threatened to rape her.

Several hackers had been entered at its meeting on the platform of video conferencing Zoom when Weber defended his dissertation, the last step to obtain her doctorate at Duke University. The harassment lasted for 10 minutes, in an example of a form of cyber attack becoming more frequent, and known as Zoom bombing.

While tens of millions of people are turning to video conferencing to keep them connected during the pandemic coronavirus, many have reported users not invited to that threaten, interspersed with messages that are racist, homophobic or anti-semitic, or show pornographic images. The attacks have drawn the attention of the FBI and other security agencies.

He looked like someone being silly, ” said Weber. After the intrusion began to become more serious and threatening, he recalled. Although she was concentrated and was able to continue, he was concerned that other people in the conversation could be shocked. The interruptions occurred despite the fact that he had chosen silence all from his home in Durham, North Carolina.

A secondary school in Massachusetts reported that some people had interrupted a class virtual Zoom, shouted insults, and revealed the address of the house of the professor. Another school in the state reported that someone had agreed to a meeting and displayed tattoos of swastikas, according to the FBI.

Zoom has referred to the trolls as people that slip in parties, which some critics have interpreted as an attempt to downplay the attacks.

In a press release last week, the company told The Associated Press that takes seriously the security of the meeting and urges users to report any incident directly to Zoom. The company suggested that the people who held large public meetings to confirm that they are the only ones that can share your screen and use functions such as muting.

For those who celebrate private meetings, the password protections are enabled by default, and we recommend that users keep such protections to prevent users from joining is not invited, said the company. Zoom updated recently the settings by default for users in the education sector so that only teachers can share content.

Despite the upgrade, the school district of Clark in Nevada, which includes all the public schools in Las Vegas, and the Department of Education of the City of New York, in charge of the largest school district in the united States, have told the teachers to stop using the platform.

The intrusion in Zoom were always a threat, because of the way in which to configure the app, more focused on the ease-of-use in the privacy, noted Justin Brookman, director of privacy and technology policy at Consumer Reports.

When the orders of confinement became of soon to the platform in a basic resource for tens of millions of families, it became a juicy target for mischief, pointed out.

For years, the issues of usability and exceeded the potential security problems because the society depended less on them. Obviously, that has changed dramatically in the last month, said Brookman.

Some intruders have been able to guess random codes that identify the conversations and enter in the conferences that were not configured to prevent to outsiders, he noted.

In other cases, inexperienced users have exposed the codes that identify the conferences. For example, the british prime minister, Boris Johnson, tweeted a screenshot of a meeting of the government in Zoom in which is seen the code of the conversation and the user of all the participants.

Brookman said that Zoom can do more to improve the privacy for the large number of users who now use their services.

The reverend Laura Everett was delivering a sermon through Zoom to the First Baptist Church of Boston when a user who had seen the religious service advertised on the internet entered the video conferencing and exclaimed, insults, homophobic or racist.

In Oakland, California, Malachi Garza reported an attack on a conference of Zoom offered to some 200 participants, including express which had suffered solitary confinement in prison and who were affected by the orders of confinement by the pandemic.

The conference organized by the group, philanthropic Solidare Network was interrupted by racist comments and tránsfobos, and the shared screen appeared pornographic images.

Zoom should tell the truth and to identify it for what it really is, ” said Garza. Terrorism is racist, not people sneaking into parties.


Morrison reported from New York. The journalist of technology, Associated Press, Frank Bajak in Boston contributed to this release.