FBI Warns of Teleconferencing and Online Classroom Hacking

Apr 03, 2020

FBI Warns of Teleconferencing and Online Classroom Hacking

BY Chris Brunau

Cybersecurity MSP Best Practices

As companies and schools across the world turn to remote work, there has been a massive shift to video conference services such as Zoom. While this technology serves a great need, it has unfortunately also given way to a new cybersecurity threat to be wary of.

In response, Zoom has published a blog post with some tips and says they are currently addressing these security concerns.

The FBI has warned of a new trend of “Zoombombing” where unauthorized users are hijacking calls and spreading spam and hateful messages.

According to the FBI’s release, the recommend increased diligence and caution when it comes to avoiding these threats:

  • 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 screen sharing options. In Zoom, change screen sharing 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.

If you were a victim of a teleconference hijacking or any cyber-crime for that matter, report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov. Additionally, if you receive a specific threat during a teleconference, please report it at tips.fbi.gov.

Schools Banning Zoom

In response to the uptick of security issues, some school districts have begun to ban Zoom in favor of other platforms.

“Providing a safe and secure remote learning experience for our students is essential, and upon further review of security concerns, schools should move away from using Zoom as soon as possible,” said Danielle Filson, a spokesperson for the New York City Dept. of Education. “There are many new components to remote learning, and we are making real-time decisions in the best interest of our staff and students.”

The city’s Dept. of Education is transitioning schools to Microsoft Teams, which the spokesperson said has the “same capabilities with appropriate security measures in place.”

The ban will cover some 1.1 million students in more than 1,800 schools across the city’s five boroughs.

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