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'Zoom-bombing' is now a federal offense in the US

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As more users have turned to video conferencing software to stay in touch and work remotely during the global pandemic, hackers and pranksters have begun to invade public or private meetings to display adult content and hateful imagery to attendees.

The practice has become so popular that it is now being referred to as 'Zoom-bombing' since many of these attempts have targeted the video conferencing platform Zoom.

Those accessing other people's meetings online may want to think twice before doing so as the US Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Michigan has published a press release in which it warns that anyone who hacks into a video conference could now face legal implications, saying:

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“Michigan’s chief federal, state, and local law enforcement officials are joining together to warn anyone who hacks into a teleconference can be charged with state or federal crimes.  Charges may include – to name just a few – disrupting a public meeting, computer intrusion, using a computer to commit a crime, hate crimes, fraud, or transmitting threatening communications.  All of these charges are punishable by fines and imprisonment.”

'Zoom-bombing' attacks

In a statement, US Attorney for the Eastern Michigan district, Matthew Scheider explained just how seriously the state plans to take 'Zoom-bombing', saying:

“You think Zoom bombing is funny? Let’s see how funny it is after you get arrested. If you interfere with a teleconference or public meeting in Michigan, you could have federal, state, or local law enforcement knocking at your door.”

In its press release on the matter, the US Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Michigan also shared some steps that businesses and schools can take to help secure their Zoom meetings.

For instance, don't make meetings or classrooms public, don't share video conferencing links in public social media posts, manage screen sharing options in Zoom to only allow the host to use this feature and make sure that all participants have updated their software to the latest version.

Video conferencing software has made it possible for businesses and schools to remain open during this trying time but without the right safeguards in place, these tools won't be nearly as effective.

Via The Verge