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FBI: Hackers Could Break Into Your Video Conference Calls
Photo by Cecilie_Arcurs/Getty Images

On Monday, the FBI warned that hackers were penetrating video-conference calls, acknowledging, “The FBI has received multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language.”

The FBI noted two recent incidents in Massachusetts where hackers broke in:

In late March 2020, a Massachusetts-based high school reported that while a teacher was conducting an online class using the teleconferencing software Zoom, an unidentified individual(s) dialed into the classroom. This individual yelled a profanity and then shouted the teacher’s home address in the middle of instruction.

A second Massachusetts-based school reported a Zoom meeting being accessed by an unidentified individual. In this incident, the individual was visible on the video camera and displayed swastika tattoos.

Fox News spoke to a spokesman for Zoom, who stated that the company was “deeply upset to hear about the incidents involving this type of attack.” Zoom urged users to report incidents to its support team so it could “take appropriate action.”

The FBI advised:

  • Do not make meetings or classrooms public. In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private: require a meeting password or use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guests.
  • Do not share a link to a teleconference or classroom on an unrestricted publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific people.
  • Manage screensharing options. In Zoom, change screensharing to “Host Only.”
  • Ensure users are using the updated version of remote access/meeting applications. In January 2020, Zoom updated their software. In their security update, the teleconference software provider added passwords by default for meetings and disabled the ability to randomly scan for meetings to join.
  • Lastly, ensure that your organization’s telework policy or guide addresses requirements for physical and information security.

Noting that many companies had reduced or eliminated charges for using their services for videoconferencing, Angela Ashenden, principal analyst at CCS Insight, told Computer World that the trend toward videoconferencing could have a profound impact on the way companies do business, saying:

The sustained nature of the outbreak will mean that organizations that might otherwise have been quite averse to the prospect of allowing employees to work remotely will now be forced to experience it. The question is whether this leads to changes in mindset in the longer term. For employees themselves, many will now be learning how to be productive when working from home, and how to collaborate with colleagues effectively outside of the office. I think we’ll see the issue of poor connectivity cropping up as well as more people spend more time on conference calls.

She also noted that the business could wind up making more money, asserting:

By providing additional features or free trials for a limited time, they can meet the spike in demand without actually cashing in [in] monetary terms, but of course they will be hoping that it means those users will see the benefit and opportunities that come from using their tools, and continue using them longer term — likely through a paid license.


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