Internet trolling hits video calls

With schools around the world making a transition from classrooms to online school due to COVID-19, schools and teachers are tweaking their classes in order to accommodate social-distancing. Many teachers have made efforts to maintain face-to-face or rather face-to-screen lessons.
Zoom, a video conferencing software, is the most popular option for students and teachers to video call. However, from what began as a useful tool to teach students at home, sprouted a growing issue – “zoom-bombing.”
Many teachers and students report unrecognized users joining and disrupting their zoom calls with disturbing messages, racial slurs, pornographic content, and even revealing the address and personal information of people participating in a call.
“At first it was a small problem because we did not know all of the safety features of zoom and also because of having too large of meetings. I am now only using zoom for office hours and not to “hold class,” said Mark O’Bryan, a math teacher.
Zoom has skyrocketed in popularity due to the coronavirus pandemic. For this reason, it is the biggest target for cyber attacks. Zoom-bombers can gain access to a call through links posted publicly on social media, or from being given the password to a call from another person. In this sense, zoom-bombing isn’t necessarily hacking, but trolling, an ongoing issue since the dawn of the internet.
“We are doing everything we can to help students, but there will always be those immature people who need their 5 minutes of fame on Instagram,” said O’Bryan.
Schools have not been the only target, zoom-bombers have attacked business meetings, religious meetings, and support groups.
Zoombombers have gone as far as interrupt a Holocaust Remembrance Day event hosted online by the Israeli embassy in Germany. The event had to be shut down in the middle of Holocaust survivor Zvi Herschel’s testimony after zoom-bombers began shouting anti-Semitic slurs and projecting photos of Adolf Hitler.
Zoom has halted all updates to focus the company’s attention on security issues. The company has come out with steps on preventing any zoom-bombers from interrupting calls. The company recommends using a “per-meeting ID,” a link exclusive to a single meeting, enabling the “waiting room” setting to see who is attempting to join before allowing access, enabling screen sharing only for the call host, and locking the meeting once every member has joined to prevent outsiders from joining.