S'porean student, 13, had Zoom class allegedly hijacked by men brandishing images of genitalia

The security issues surrounding Zoom are of greater importance now given its usage amongst school children.

Andrew Koay | April 09, 2020, 06:32 PM

With schools in Singapore implementing full home-based learning from Apr. 8 onwards, video conferencing platform Zoom has become a common tool for many teachers.

However, one Zoom lesson didn't go as planned for a Secondary 1 student known only as Zee.

According to The Straits Times, her Zoom-facilitated geography class was allegedly hijacked by hackers who showed the class of 39 students pictures of male genitalia.

The two hackers — allegedly caucasian men — also told the girls in the class to "show us your boobs", said Zee.

The 13-year-old's mother — whose name was stated as Miss Loh — told The Straits Times that she was "very concerned."

The civil servant, 47, had also informed Zee's teacher about the incident.

"Home-based learning is supposed to be a safe space, but now our children have to be exposed to such things?

I know it's difficult to manage but as a parent I feel very concerned."

Zoom underfire

This latest incident in Singapore was reported after news broke that Zoom was facing a class-action suit by one of its shareholders.

According to Reuters, Zoom Video Communications Inc is being accused of overstating the privacy standards of the application and failing to disclose that its service was not end-to-end encrypted.

Zoom has also come in for criticism over security breaches with the company's founder and chief executive officer Eric Yuan admitting that the platform had "fallen short of the community's — and our own, privacy and security expectations."

"For that, I am deeply sorry," he wrote in a blog post.

Zoombombing

Security issues within the platform and its increased usage as more of the world's population have turned to staying at home in the Covid-19 pandemic, has led to the phenomena of "zoombombing".

This is the act of crashing a Zoom meeting, often involving the harassment of its participants.

According toThe New York Times, one Zoom session hosted by fast-food restaurant Chipotle with musician Lauv was hijacked by one participant who began broadcasting pornography to the other attendees.

How to secure your Zoom conferences

Thankfully, there are a few ways you can avoid such situations.

The New York Times shared some times tips on how to safeguard your Zoom video conferences.

This includes creating a waiting room. This gives the meeting's organiser the ability to place those wanting to join the meeting in a virtual holding area.

Organisers can then grant access to those they are familiar with into the actual call.

Inside the video conferences itself, hosts can disable functions such as the annotation feature — which allows users to draw onscreen in different colors using a cursor — private chats, and file transfers.

Hosts may also want to turn off a function which allows others to share their screens.

Finally, its always a good idea to make sure that you're using an updated version of Zoom, as the company moves to enhance it's security features.

More information on securing Zoom video conferences can be found here.

Top image by Andrew Koay