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County Commission Video Conference Interrupted by Porn Hackers

A virtual county commission meeting in coastal Georgia was interrupted by an unexpected display of pornographic content this week. 

A virtual county commission meeting in coastal Georgia was interrupted by an unexpected display of pornographic content this week.

The McIntosh County Commissioners were conducting a video conference meeting on Tuesday when the stream was interrupted with porn, officials told the local media outlet The Brunswick News. “About 20 minutes into it, someone hacked into our meeting, locked our screens and started playing some pretty hardcore porn,” Commission Chairman David Stevens told the news.

Stevens said county employees took precautions ahead of time and worked with Zoom to adhere to the necessary privacy precautions but it was not enough to prevent the hacking, which led to an early adjournment of Tuesday’s meeting.

It was enough, however, to lead county commissioners to halt video conferencing altogether and return to in-person meetings. In order to meet social distancing requirements, the commissioners met outside their government annex building on Wednesday night.

Law enforcement officials recommend exercising due diligence and caution and encourages users to take the following steps to mitigate videoconferencing threats:

  • Do not make the meetings or classrooms public. Videoconferencing platforms have options under “settings” to make meetings private by requiring participants to enter a meeting password, follow a link to a meeting, or wait in a virtual “waiting room.”  These are all features that allow the host to limit public access and control admission of guests.
  • Do not share a meeting link publicly. Do not use publicly accessible social media platforms to share your meeting link with participants. Provide the link directly to specific people.
  • Manage screen-sharing options. Most VTC platforms have screen-sharing capability so that participants can see a host’s presentations, a feature often used in online classroom settings. Change the screen-sharing setting to “Host-Only” so that participants cannot share their screens.
     
  • Download updates. Ensure that users are using the updated version of remote access/meeting applications, as many VTC platforms have built in additional security measures in their latest updates.
  • Familiarize yourself with the VTC platform’s capability to remove intruders and lock meetingsMost VTC platforms have ways for hosts to remove participants and prevent them from re-joining and to lock meetings once all participants have joined. Consult with your employer’s IT professionals for more information about these features.

If you are a victim of a video-teleconference hijacking or any cybercrime, you can report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

Jessica Szilagyi is a Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers."

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    NELDA SMITH

    April 19, 2020 at 5:45 pm

    I GUESS THAT WAS A REAL SHOW STOPPER ! THE FBI FORENSIC DEPT. SHOULD BE ABLE TO TRACE DIGITAL FOOT PRINTS BACK TO SOURCE. ZOOM IS A CHINESE VEHICLE – DIDN’T THEY KNOW THAT?

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