Hackers ‘Zoom bombing’ meetings, attacking teleworkers, students

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SEATTLE -- Teleworking is making Americans more vulnerable to hacking, according to cybersecurity experts.

From phishing employees to hijacking video teleconferencing, bored hackers are disrupting the online space we're operating in to follow physical distancing measures.

While schools use video conferencing sites like Zoom to teach students, at least one district in Washington is dealing with the disturbing threat of disruption. Edmonds School District said it's heard the concerns over virtual classroom disruptions and is trying to take measures to prevent it. Q13 News learned that at least one teacher canceled class over it.

The FBI said hackers are hijacking these virtual classrooms, posting pornographic or hate images and yelling profanities. It's happening in workplace meetings too. It's called "Zoom bombing."

"There's bored people invading Zoom meetings, corporate Zoom meetings, by just typing in random numbers and then pranking people, yelling out swear words and sharing content that's inappropriate," cybersecurity expert Bryan Seely said. "People are bored, people are legitimately troubled, and now there's nowhere for them to go except for online."

The FBI said there are a few tips to protect video teleconferencing:

  • Do not make meetings or classrooms public, require a password to access it.
  • Do not share the meeting link to a public forum like social media, send it directly to participants.
  • Change screen sharing to "host only" so inappropriate images won't pop up.
  • If you're a victim of teleconference hijacking or another cyber crime, report it at IC3.gov.

"Zoom bombing" isn't the only way hackers are disrupting the online space. Seely said they're preying on our desire for information related to COVID-19 by sending fraudulent links that appear to come from someone you know, posing as legitimate news sites or health organizations, in order to hack our online systems.

"So if someone were to say, 'Click here for coronavirus stats,' and you click the link, that is the perfect way to trick you into going to a link that's not actually anything to do with coronavirus stuff," Seely said. "If anyone sends you anything and the next screen is, 'Enter your credentials,' chances are it's phishing, chances are don't do it."

Seely said the best way to protect yourself right now is to be extra vigilant and skeptical. If someone you know sends you a link, instead of clicking on the link, try searching for the direct source online.

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