05:04 GMT04 June 2020
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    A person who wants to join an online group chat on Zoom, the in-vogue app of the coronavirus era, should obtain the ID number of the meeting and the password. City officials, who must broadcast all of their meetings, had made the information available to everyone.

    Pranksters have disrupted a video conference of officials in the small Maine town of Bath with pornographic images and profane language, The Times Record newspaper reports.

    Bath City Council was conducting its first remote meeting via the in-vague app Zoom on Wednesday when the intervention happened. The trolls have not been identified, and no investigation followed.

    “I was baffled that something like that could happen in little Bath, Maine,” said council chairwoman Mari Eosco. “You’re never immune on the internet.”

    “We tried to troubleshoot for things that could happen or go wrong, but that was not one of them,” she added. “I was more concerned about how people would raise their hands so I would know someone wanted to speak.”

    The council had posted information about Wednesday’s meeting on its website along with an identification number and a password for anyone who wanted to watch the meeting.

    The conference has been rescheduled for Monday, and only members of the council and staff members will receive the necessary info to be able to join it. Members of the public who wish to watch it, however, will be able to obtain the ID number and password from officials via email.

    The coronavirus-inspired social distancing rules are increasingly prompting public institutions, schools and businesses to move online. This gave rise to previously obscure video conferencing apps such as Zoom, which has immediately become a target for abuse and harassment from pranksters and hackers.

    The FBI this week said it had seen a rise in instances of hacking on Zoom – a practice dubbed “zoom-bombing” – and advised videoconference hosts to make their meetings private and avoid sharing links to them on social media. The bureau is now looking into the app, whose founders promised to bolster privacy and security.

    The Department of Justice stated in a press release on Friday that such attacks classify as a state or federal offense, and are punishable by harsh fines and even imprisonment.

    “You think Zoom bombing is funny?  Let’s see how funny it is after you get arrested,” stated Matthew Schneider, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.  “If you interfere with a teleconference or public meeting in Michigan, you could have federal, state, or local law enforcement knocking at your door.”

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    coronavirus, COVID-19, hackers, porn, Maine, United States
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