online classes
Online classes are being affected by Zoombombing recently. Source: Greg Baker/AFP

In just a few weeks, Zoom became a household name as one of the most popular video conferencing platforms for schools and universities as well as businesses amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

It’s easy to see why — it’s able to host multiple users in a video call, specifically designed to facilitate video conferencing with easy scheduling features.

Recently, however, it was reported that Zoom has security and privacy flaws that allow for sinister activities such as Zoombombing — where uninvited “cyber-guests” can enter and disrupt a meeting in progress.

Recent Zoombombing incidents happening in online classes include a sudden racial slur attack in a “Chicano 143: “Mestizaje: History of Diverse Racial/Cultural Roots of Mexico” class by UCLA, and pornographic videos played during an “Introduction to Storytelling” course by Arizona State University.

You don’t even need to be a genius hacker to disrupt a Zoom online class. CNET explained that it’s actually very easy to enter a Zoom meeting, as all you need to do is access unprotected links and Zoom codes which can be found “scattered across organisational pages on social media” or even through Google searches.

There’s even a Twitter account — @zoomcodes — that encourages others to record Zoom crashes and send it to them for retweets.

Malissa Cordova recently made a name for herself on TikTok by Zoombombing online classes across different schools and colleges, then posting videos of them on the popular social media platform.

The 17-year-old’s account became so popular that she started receiving Zoom codes and requests from other students to “crash” their Zoom online classes and disrupt them. She even organised “group crashes” by inviting others.

Eventually, she was caught and her account was banned by TikTok.

She expressed remorse and acknowledged she was causing disruption when things went south after she unintentionally joined a college sociology class and several other crashers showed up.

She said, “I felt absolutely terrible for the professor and his students. That’s time they paid for just to be burned away by teenage boredom.”

What are the people behind Zoom doing about disruption in online classes?

online classes

Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom, has stated that they are working on updates to fix security and privacy issues. Source: Kena Betancur/Getty Images via AFP

Fortunately, Zoom is acknowledging the flaws in their security features and are taking steps to rectify these issues, which could put an end to Zoombombing in the near future.

According to The Verge, Zoom is putting updates on hold for 30 days to address security and privacy concerns.

CEO Eric Yuan said in a blog post on Wednesday, “We recognise that we have fallen short of the community’s — and our own — privacy and security expectations. For that, I am deeply sorry.”

He also said they did not expect such a stark increase in users, saying that “we did not design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying, and socialising from home.”

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