Hackers targeting video conference calls during the COVID-19 pandemic


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- While many people work at home, a new trend is raising concerns in the cyber world.

Some people may not really think of security issues when they log on to their computers to have video conference calls. Many of us are having to utilize video calling apps to get work done because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Apps like FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom are great tools but they can also be used as a weapon. 

“I do all my work from home and online. And I know I’m dealing with peoples’ information, personal information, and that can be very dangerous if it’s hacked,” said Catia Stringham.

Lisa Hunt, a local mother, said, “I am definitely concerned about it.”

“Now, everyone has the stay-in-shelter order so now everyone is at home on the computer,” added Charles Kicklighter. He works for the GBI in the Georgia Cyber-Crime Center.

As many people try to stay connected through the virtual world, reports are coming out around the country that uninvited guests are hacking into online-video calls or chats where the hackers are making threats, derogatory comments and show pornographic images. It’s called “Zoom bombing.”

Kicklighter said, “More children, younger kids are online so the exploiters are also going to online in these apps trying to groom and exploit young children.”

“You don’t want your children to be receiving information that you don’t want them to have or inappropriate information,” said Hunt.

“Out of New York, it was a school. South Carolina, Tennessee they were all school settings. Yeah, it can happen with any business so with you know, anybody,” explained Kicklighter.

In some states, lawmakers are questioning tech companies about their privacy and security settings in video-teleconference platforms. 

At the Georgia Cyber Center, Kicklighter encourages people to use a random meeting ID, don’t use anything personal. Enable a waiting room if you can, that way you can control who comes in the video chat. Once a meeting starts, lock it. On some apps, you can control file sharing, to be the safest, turn that off. Kicklighter doesn’t believe one device is safer than the other but you need to always check the settings on each device. He also advises you to keep a close watch on scams. 

He said, “These bad guys are posting apps and websites, you know, ‘check your city for COVID-19 cases.’ Just out of curiosity some people will click on that. And once they click, the malware starts and their stuff is compromised.”

Kicklighter added many reasons why hackers can get into video-teleconferences is because some people will post the meeting ID to social media and that needs to stop. 

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