FBI Warning: Online Classrooms and Teleconferencing Apps Are Being Hijacked

The agency also says school closings due to COVID-19 and children’s increased online presence pose an increased risk for child exploitation.


With so many students and workers turning to distance learning and videoconferencing so they can stay connected during the coronavirus crisis, the FBI says it is receiving reports that these platforms are being hijacked (also called “Zoom-bombing”).


Two schools in Massachusetts reported the following incidents:


  • In late March 2020, a Massachusetts-based high school reported that while a teacher was conducting an online class using the teleconferencing software Zoom, an unidentified individual(s) dialed into the classroom. This individual yelled a profanity and then shouted the teacher’s home address in the middle of instruction.

  • A second Massachusetts-based school reported a Zoom meeting being accessed by an unidentified individual. In this incident, the individual was visible on the video camera and displayed swastika tattoos.


The FBI recommends individuals take the following steps to mitigate teleconference hijacking threats:


  • Do not make meetings or classrooms public. In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private: require a meeting password or use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guests.

  • Do not share a link to a teleconference or classroom on an unrestricted publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific people.

  • Manage screensharing options. In Zoom, change screensharing to “Host Only.”

  • Ensure users are using the updated version of remote access/meeting applications. In January 2020, Zoom updated their software. In their security update, the teleconference software provider added passwords by default for meetings and disabled the ability to randomly scan for meetings to join.

  • Lastly, ensure that your organization’s telework policy or guide addresses requirements for physical and information security.


If you were a victim of a teleconference hijacking, or any cyber-crime, report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov. Additionally, if you receive a specific threat during a teleconference, report it at tips.fbi.gov or call the FBI Boston Division at (857) 386-2000.


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