State call gets ‘Zoom bombed’

Presentation on COVID-19 crisis illustrates dangers of online video conferencing program.

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News

April 6, 2020 - 9:42 AM

David Toland

Friday’s statewide presentation with state officials on the ongoing COVID-19 crisis showed the dangers in using a popular online video conferencing program.

“Zoom bombers” infiltrated the K-State Research and Extension program on how the state is responding to the economic shutdown.

Appearing in the conference were Secretary of Commerce David Toland, Secretary of Labor  Delia Garcia and Laurel Klein Searles, who directs the state’s unemployment services program.

The event was being broadcast live in order for residents to pose questions to the presenters, noted Nancy Daniels, a community vitality specialist with Kansas State University.

However, Toland was only minutes into his presentation when the Zoom bombers — hackers operating remotely — flooded the computer screen with pornographic images, slurs and other derisive comments.

The live webcast was stopped immediately.

Toland, et al, then recorded their presentations privately which were posted on the K-State Research and Extension website.

Daniels said the Zoom bombers gained access because the meeting was open to the public.

Zoom has become a popular program for business and government leaders in recent days because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted Gov. Kelly to institute a statewide stay-at-home order through April 19.

Zoom allows multiple users to interact simultaneously through their computers or smart phones. Privacy settings can be adjusted to prevent such intrusions.

Daniels said future presentations would include those safeguards.

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