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I-TEAM: Hacker gained access to CSRA middle school Zoom chat and showed porn to students

(Source: WRDW)
(Source: WRDW)(WRDW)
Published: Mar. 30, 2020 at 3:40 PM EDT
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Monday, March 30, 2020

News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Internet group chat services like Zoom are proving to be a critical tool in helping businesses and students alike stay connected during the quarantine.

But there’s a new warning from the I-Team to double-check security settings. This comes after a middle school class in Aiken County was hacked and shown pornography during last Friday's math class.

President Donald Trump extended social distancing recommendations until the end of April. This means many of us will continue to work from home and our children will continue to learn from home for at least another month.

Zoom and other online tools have made both jobs easier, but as 7th-grade students at Kennedy Middle School found out, it comes with a risk.

"Zoombombing" can expose children to the dark side of the internet.

Aiken County mother Susan Jasani thought caring and educating her five kids during the age of social distancing would be chaotic, but not scaring like it was Friday for her oldest son, Max.

“He’s sitting at the dining room table, and I’m coming out of the bedroom with a baby in my arms and all of a sudden he just kind of looked up at me and screamed and jumped up from the table, and I think he was in shock and I said, ‘What are you doing?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know,’ and ran up to his room,” Jasani said.

By the time Jasani got to the computer, the images were gone. For Max, the damage was done.

“He obviously did not want to talk about it,” Jasani said. “He was embarrassed and a little hysterical from what he saw.”

After some coaxing, she learned a hacker named "MoLester" joined the class chat and showed pornography to the children and their teacher. Jasani said she quickly got a text from the teacher apologizing. Jasani is not mad at the teacher, but saddened hackers know it's a vulnerable time for us all.

“Obviously, they know there are a ton of kids out there right now using it, so they know it’s a perfect opportunity to do something like this,” Jasani said.

The I-Team found stories of “Zoombombing” as it's called unfolding across the country from local schools to colleges to city council meetings.

Some districts have even asked teachers to use a different platform altogether.

For Jasani, her daughter’s kindergarten class was set to start Zooming in their class today.

“I’m just a little more hesitant about it until I know more,” Jasani said. “Hopefully, you can find out some more information and share it with everybody.”

The I-Team found the Zoom security settings are left to the host to impose.

So, what security steps can a host impose?

-Use a random meeting ID and not a personal one.

-Enable the Waiting Room feature to decide on who can enter the meeting.

-Lock the meeting after it starts so no one else can jump in.

-Disable File Sharing

-Only allow the host to have control of screen sharing.

A spokesperson with the Aiken County School District tells us they have gone over the Zoom setting with their teachers. In addition, the district's IT department is working with Microsoft to be able to offer Microsoft Teams for virtual classrooms. Microsoft Teams is "in-network", which will make it easier for IT to prevent future hacks.

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