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Cybersecurity Expert: How To Protect Yourself From ‘Zoombombers’

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Screenshot 2020 04 01 13.27.39

“Zoombombers”, a term used to describe someone who hacks into an online group, are exploiting the coronavirus social distancing directives by infiltrating a growing number of online meetings with hateful messages.

A group of Yeshiva University students, a Jewish institution in New York, were “Zoombombed” on Tuesday night by individuals who posted antisemitic comments in their group that included, “SHUT THE F*** UP JEWS” and “IMMA GAS YALL.”

“We are horrified to see this new trend ‘Zoombombing’ gaining traction; for antisemites to disrupt online learning sessions, city meetings, even funerals with their bigotry is shameful. Would the police tolerate a neo-Nazi running into a classroom at Yeshiva University screaming ‘Heil Hitler’? Of course not; the individual would most likely be arrested and charged,” StopAntisemitism.org’s Liora Rez said in a statement to SaraACarter.com.

“We would like to have the authorities treat those participating in ‘Zoombombing’ the same way,” Rez added. “Real consequences are the only way to combat antisemitism and hatred online.”

In a similar attack, hijackers recently infiltrated a London synagogue’s Zoom session with antisemitic messages after the group shared the meeting link on public accounts to ensure the community could join, including many families and children.

“One of the founding ideals of our community is that we should welcome those who wish to join us for prayer, ” the synagogue’s rabbi said in a statement. “We recognize that many Jewish households are not members of synagogues, or are members of communities that are not able to offer online services. We want to assure them that they are still welcome to pray and study with us.

He continued, “It is deeply upsetting that at such a difficult period we are faced with additional challenges like these. We will be keeping the security of our online provision under review through the weeks ahead.”

Last month, a “Zoombomber” entered a city council meeting in New Canaan, Connecticut to post “references to male genitalia,” according to a report from the New Canaan Advertiser. The town Council Chairman John Engel muted the hackers but they kept “popping up with new names,” he told the new site.

With Zoom being one of the only ways to meet during the coronavirus pandemic, many are questioning how to stay safe in the online chat rooms. Dr. Eric Cole, a cybersecurity expert, former CIA analyst and Founder and CEO of Secure Anchor Consulting, told this reporter that reports of “Zoombombing” that were once a “one-off” event have “increased exponentially” during the coronavirus outbreak.

“The corona and everybody working from home and doing virtual meetings took these small, little problems that we knew about and basically just shined a really big light on it,” he said.

Here’s Dr. Cole’s advice for staying safe on Zoom:
  • For churches, synagogues, and other gatherings advertising Zoom links publicly, Cole recommends for group administrators to put participants in “listen only mode”, meaning users can’t post, appear on video, or turn on their microphone.

“Even if people join in, they can’t post anything, they can’t say anything, they can’t do anything, they can only listen and receive content.” said Cole, “That’s probably one of the easiest, simplest mechanisms that’s built into Zoom, but, like I said, because so many people are looking at the functionality, they’re just not aware of how to configure it correctly.”

  • If you’re a community leader setting up a Zoom session, there are three configurations that you can control to prevent “Zoombombers,” Cole explained. The first is “whether people are on mute or not, you can override their settings so you can actually lock people on mute.”
  • The second way is to “lock out video so they can’t turn on their video”, and, finally, administrators can block posts and comments to stop participants “from posting any comments, any pictures, or any content at all during the call.”
  • For small groups, which would be around ten people, Cole advises leaders to “set a password on the meeting and then only give that out to those attendees.” Even if someone had the link to the group, not having the password would prevent an outsider from entering the session.
  • Notably, there is a feature called “locking a meeting” that completely closes the meeting completely to anyone, regardless of if they have a link or password.
  • When using Zoom, Cole added, users should assume that “by default” it’s not secure, but there are mechanisms that you can implement in less than five minutes to increase security and prevent a “Zoombombing.”

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Trump: Tanks to Ukraine could escalate to use of ‘NUKES’

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ukraine tanks scaled

Former President Donald Trump stated bluntly on Truth Social,  “FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do!”

Trump was referring to the escalation of war in Ukraine. He, like many other commentators and lawmakers, are warning that the decision to continue sending weapons – and now tanks – could potentially lead to the use of “nuclear weapons.”

It’s mission creep and it’s dangerous, they say.

Why? Because Russian President Valdimir Putin has indicated in two different speeches that he would use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, if needed. Those warnings are not just bluster but a very real possibility.

And the escalation of war is visible.

Russia launched 55 missiles strikes across Ukraine Thursday, leaving 11 dead. The strikes come one day after the United States and Germany agreed to send tanks to Ukraine in an effort to aide the country. 47 of the 55 missiles were shot down according to Ukraine’s Air Force command.

Eleven lives were lost and another 11 were injured additionally leaving 35 buildings damaged in the wake of the attacks. According to The New York Times, Denys Shmyhal, said in a post on Telegram. “The main goal is energy facilities, providing Ukrainians with light and heat,” he said.

Ukraine is now demanding that they need F-16 fighter jets. In a post on twitter Ukrainian lawmaker, Oleksiy Goncharenko said, “Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.”

The US has abstained from sending advanced jets in the chances that a volatile decision could foster more dangerous attacks like former President Trump’s post on Truth referred to. If the US did authorize the decision to lend Ukraine the F-16 jets Netherlands’ foreign minister, Wopke Hoekstra, would be willing to supply them. According to The New York Times, Hoekstra told Dutch lawmakers, “We are open-minded… There are no taboos.”

F-16 fighter jets are complex to work on, they are not the average aircraft that can be learned in a matter of weeks. It can take months for pilots to learn how to fly these birds. European and US officials have the concern that Ukrainian forces could potentially use the jets to fly into Russian airspace and launch attacks on Russian soil.

Western allies are trying to avoid such a provocation, because that could lead to nuclear warfare in reference to what Putin has said he would do to defend his country.

 

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