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UF student government meeting ‘Zoom bombed’

Videoconference hijackings have become more common in recent weeks.

An online University of Florida student government meeting was bombarded this week with images of swastikas and pornography in what’s known as a “Zoom bombing.”

UF President Kent Fuchs said on Twitter that he has ordered an investigation into the attack, adding that there is currently no evidence a UF student was the perpetrator.

The hijacking practice has become more common in recent weeks as office workers and students turn to video conferencing services to continue working and learning through the novel coronavirus outbreak.

UF and other state universities are closed for the remainder of the spring semester and have been begun conducting classes online. Several state universities have announced they will move their summer classes online in anticipation that the novel coronavirus pandemic won’t be easing anytime soon.

K-12 schools have also shut down and moved online. Earlier this week, the Department of Education announced they will remain closed through the end of April.

On Monday, the FBI issued a statement warning Americans about such attacks and providing recommendations to help schools, businesses and others avoid them:

— 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.

The bureau said victims of teleconference hijackings can file a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.

“Zoom bombings” are one of several online threats that have become increasingly common in the coronavirus era. The FBI has also noted a rise in online schemes, including fake emails from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, phishing emails, and pitches for phony COVID-19 cures.

In Florida, Attorney General Ashley Moody has teamed up with Florida’s three U.S. attorneys to track down and snuff out online scams.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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