ORLANDO, Fla. - A group of Orange County students got a very rude awakening when they were video conferencing with their teacher.
Afterwards, this is the message Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) officials put out to parents after a class Zoom meeting had an unwelcome guest:
“In the session, an unknown individual gained access into the online instruction session and exposed himself. Law enforcement and district police were immediately notified and are investigating.”
Computer expert Tom Jelneck said it’s come to be called "Zoom-bombing,"- when a person unexpectedly pops into a zoom video session and starts trouble.
“People are getting into the classroom and either yelling obscenities or sharing their screen and the screen is not nice and should not be shared with kids,” he said.
It also happened to Florida State Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami-Dade, when she was hosting a virtual town hall meeting about unemployment benefits.
“Unfortunately, we had just started our call, and they self-proclaimed themselves as hackers and went on to interrupt our call,” she said.
There is something, though, that can be done about it. To combat "Zoom bombers," the company put in place a feature called a "waiting room," that lets the host decide which users get to participate in the chat. In Zoom, go to your "settings" tab, and scroll almost all the way down the list of options till you get to the one called "waiting room.” Turn that option on. With this in-place the host gets to choose who enters the chat.
Senator Taddeo said it was a sad part of the "new normal" we're all living in.
“We need to be cognizant of the fact that there's gonna be a lot more hacking and a lot more people trying to disrupt our only connection to our family, our friends, and the world,” she said.
OCPS said in a statement that while anyone who uses zoom should use the waiting room feature, the only video chat programs they authorize for classroom use are Big Blue Button and Canvas.