‘Zoom bombing’ a growing concern during COVID-19 pandemic

U.S.

SOUTHLAKE, Texas (NewsNation Now) —  As parents turn to online apps to teach their children from home during the Coronavirus pandemic, hackers are seeing this as an opportunity to jump in, an act known as zoom bombing.

The FBI reports an increase of 16,800 internet crime complaints since the start of the pandemic.

Zoom bombing is a term used to describe when a hacker logs in to an online class often spewing obscenities and even showing pornography. But Technology experts stated there are ways to prevent it from happening.

For Texas mother Heather Bruce and her 3 daughters, going online has taken on a new roll during the pandemic.

They’re using Zoom, Google Classroom, See Saw and Canvas to learn from home. The mother of three explained to NewsNation that learning online is challenging at times.

“There was probably a list of four or five different apps for each grade. Unfortunately, there can be predators out in the world in real life. There’s also ones online,” said Bruce. “I have faith that the schools going to do as much as they can when it comes to safety. The rest I’m just putting in the Lord’s hands.”
 
Despite the fear of hackers, Bruce said virtual classes are the best option for her family.

“We do have an immune-compromised person in our household. My husband is 3 years cancer-free. But going through chemo and all of that. I’m not sure exactly how strong his immune system is and we have been very very careful since March,” said Bruce.   

For this fall semester, her kids won’t be in the classroom again. She’s opted for them to learn online. Her oldest Alannah is heading into her junior year in high school.

Alannah said her online classes have been hacked into several times before.

“We did use zoom and there was a couple instances with hackers and people zoom jumping and going into classes they weren’t supposed to. But they kind of figured out all the kinks with that,” said the high school student.

As of March 30, 2020, the FBI’s internet crime complaint center received and reviewed more than 1,200 complaints related to COVID-19 scams. As of Aug. 7, it received more than 18,000 coronavirus-specific complaints. The FBI says they expect even more hackers to target businesses and education technology platforms.
 
Critical Start Director of Professional Services
Quentin Rhoads-Herrera told NewsNation there is a way to prevent hackers from jumping into classes.

“Using things like passwords, wait in lobby is a critical feature even if somebody guesses your password or even finds it somewhere,” said Rhoads-Herrera. “If they join the meeting they’re going to be sitting in kind of a suspended state and that’s very critical.”
 
Another barrier he suggested is having another adult on standby to quickly remove anyone who shouldn’t be logged in.

On Zoom’s website, the company suggested users require registration, disable the join before host feature and allow only authorized users to join can help protect children doing online classes.

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