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Online video conferences are the target of 'Zoom-bombings' amid coronavirus crisis

Cyber Security Professor Andrew Rozema shares tips to protect your online Zoom meeting from 'Zoom-bombing' attacks

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Now that most of the nation's workforce is dialing into the office from home, more and more companies hold team meeting in online video conferencing spaces, like Zoom. Now internet trolls and hackers have figured out how to 'zoom-bomb' those meetings. 

“Zoom bombing is when some nefarious user, somebody takes advantage of the permissions you have accidentally given them to get up to no good, to cause trouble in your zoom meeting.”

Professor Andrew Rozema is the Director of Grand Rapids Community College Center for Cyber Security Studies. He says the 'Zoom room' is where participants are most vulnerable to 'Zoom bombing' attacks. He says if you're posting a Zoom meeting ID to a public site like Facebook or Twitter, set the password requirement for participants to join. 

“There were some shenanigans that went down at a church where they invited the entire congregation and those links were on social media,' he says. "Then people joined in and started taking advantage of their ability to change the background, to share their screens and content, and present things that really, let’s just day was not the nicest content.”

For additional information about 'zoom-bombing' Professor Rozema recommends this blog post. He says for educators, here are recommendations to secure virtual classrooms. 

RELATED: Politicians rely on 'virtual' meetings and at-home work as pandemic continues

According to Professor Rozema, other than presenting an annoyance, zoom-bombing is not a dangerous threat to cyber security. That doesn't mean however, that working from home is 100% secure. Using personal laptops or devices can make users vulnerable to cyber attacks.

“Personal devices, your phone your iPad you should be taking good precautions with using your passwords, you should be leery of connecting to public wireless access points if you can avoid it," says Professor Rozema. Make sure that when iOS tells you its time to update that phone or android pushes an update to you that you take those seriously get them done. Take the usual precautions that I would recommend as just good home cyber hygiene.”

Instead, he recommends using office issued equipment to comment to the Virtual private network. And remember to thank the company IT department for protecting the organization from trolls and hackers. 

“Silent heroes of your IT department, the people who saved you from the Y2K bug even though nobody admits it, the good work they’re doing is what you have to lean on. And depending on how they set things up, if they're sending you home with an office owned laptop that they can control,  they brace men and women of the IT department have probably got you set up in a pretty good place.”

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