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FBI Office Warns of Teleconferencing Risks

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The FBI’s Boston office published a press release on March 30 warning the public about video-teleconference (VTC) hijacking (also known as “Zoom-bombing”). The agency has received reports nationwide of conferences being interrupted by hateful images, threatening language, and pornographic content. These new reports come during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time in which large numbers of Americans have begun using VTC platforms to conduct work and stay connected.

The press release lists two reports of Zoom-bombing that occurred recently in the FBI Boston Division’s area of responsibility. The first case took place in March at a Massachusetts high school. The report stated that an unidentified individual dialed into a classroom’s Zoom conference, “yelled a profanity, and then shouted the teacher’s home address in the middle of [the] instruction.” The second case occurred at a different high school in Massachusetts, where an unidentified individual accessed a Zoom meeting and “was visible on the camera displaying swastika tattoos.”

The FBI recommends several ways to stay vigilant and exercise diligence against Zoom-bombing: do not make VTC’s public, do not share links to VTCs on an “unrestricted publicly available social media post,” make sure than screen sharing is set to “Host Only,” and ensure that users have the latest updated version of their VTC platform. The FBI also suggests that all reports of teleconference hijacking be made at their Internet Crime Complaint Center website, and that specific cyber-threats be reported to their tip page

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