Online classes under attack by “Zoom bombers”

Synchronous Zoom classes face a new cyber threat

Across+the+country+since+the+start+of+the+pandemic%2C+Zoom+meetings%2C+including+synchronous+online+classrooms+in+the+Los+Rios+Community+College+District+have+been+under+attack+by+a+new+cyber+threat%2C+Zoom+bombers.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+pixabay.com%29

Across the country since the start of the pandemic, Zoom meetings, including synchronous online classrooms in the Los Rios Community College District have been under attack by a new cyber threat, Zoom bombers. (Photo courtesy of pixabay.com)

Brandon Zamora, Opinion Editor

Across the United States, community colleges and universities holding synchronous online classes have experienced ongoing problems with people coming into virtual classrooms unannounced and causing a disturbance. These virtual invaders are known as “Zoom bombers.”

According to Scott Crow, ARC’s communications and public information officer, there haven’t been any reports of attacks from Zoom bombers at ARC’s online environment. However, the threat of these cyber attacks is still possible and both students and staff are encouraged to show caution with their Zoom meetings moving forward.

According to Detective Amy Freeman of the Los Rios Police Department, these virtual attacks from the Zoom bombers have been reported within the Los Rios Community College District for a month now, but it has been an issue throughout the nation since the start of the pandemic.

“Los Rios has only reported a few incidents from September, but this has been an ongoing trend nationwide since late March as many businesses and schools began using Zoom as a primary meeting source,” Freeman said. “In the cases at Los Rios [school district], these subjects have made inappropriate comments and played obscene music.”

According to Freeman, there hasn’t been any sort of pattern when it comes to the attackers.

“In the cases at Los Rios, there is not one particular group or set of people that are involved and all appear random and not local,” Freeman said.

These virtual attacks are not only disturbing professors from doing their job in teaching students, but Zoom bombing is also illegal. According to Freeman, the actions from these Zoom bombers are treated as online harassment and depending on what they do while they interfere in any Zoom meetings, they could see punishment by law.

“This new form of online harassment could violate the Computer Fraud [and Abuse Act (CFAA)], the Abuse Act, the Federal WireTap Act, or other state and federal laws,” Freeman said. “Punishments vary depending on the nature of the acts committed and whether they violate state or federal law.”

According to Crow, ARC encourages both students and faculty to help by taking steps to keep these Zoom meetings safe by not sharing information to help “provide a safe environment for all.”

“One key thing is we are encouraging all employees who set up Zoom meetings to follow best practices, including using passwords,” Crow said. “Students can also help by not sharing Zoom links or passwords to anyone outside of their class — if their class gets ‘Zoom bombed’ we ask that they encourage their instructor to report it to their dean.”