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FBI warns of child sexual abuse material being displayed during Zoom Meetings

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – COVID-19 has forced many businesses, schools, and other organizations to adapt. Leaving many to rely on the internet to stay connected.

Still, relying on the internet for business and social purposes is highlighting problems lurking on the internet.

“Some of those meetings are open to the public and links to those virtual events are being shared online,” says Jeff McCormick, acting assistant special agent in charge with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Pittsburgh Division.

McCormick says the FBI has received more than 200 cases across the world where Zoom meetings have been hacked and explicit video of child pornography was streamed.

“240 that the FBI are involved around the world,” he said. “I am sure there are many others that just have not been reported.”

One of those reported cases happened in Charleston — during a Kanawha Library Board Meeting. McCormick says that incident is still under investigation.

“It is super important that everyone understand just how terrible this activity is,” McCormick says. “The FBI considers the sharing of these videos to be a violent crime. Every time that video is viewed, the child in that video is re-victimized.”

The FBI is committed to apprehending any individual who produces or distributes child sexual abuse material. They are asking the public’s to help identify the person or persons responsible.

  • If you are the administrator or host of a Zoom meeting in which CSAM was broadcast, please contact the FBI; do not delete or destroy any of your computer logs without further direction.
  • If you recorded a Zoom meeting in which child sexual abuse material was broadcast, please contact the FBI for assistance in removing the CSAM from your device.
  • If you believe you are a victim of a child sexual abuse material broadcast during a Zoom event, as defined above, please contact the FBI to learn about your victim rights and possible victim assistance.

If you are a victim of child sexual abuse material being broadcast during a Zoom event, you can let the FBI know online. You can also report an incident to the FBI anonymously online or by phone at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

The following steps may mitigate future child sexual abuse material issues during Zoom events:

  • Do not make meetings or classrooms public. In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private:
    • Require a meeting password.
    • Use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guests.
  • Do not share a link to a teleconference or classroom on an unrestricted, publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific attendees.
  • Manage screen sharing options. In Zoom, change screen sharing to “Host Only.”

Any online communication platform is susceptible to hacking but the FBI warning applies to Zoom calls.

Meanwhile, the company’s top officials say they are cognizant of the issues and are working to beef up their privacy and security initiatives. Last month, Zoom launched a 90-day plan, which includes a new advisory board and weekly seminars.

In a blog post on zoom’s website, CEO Eric Yuan wrote the following:

Zoom has seen tremendous growth and new use cases emerge over the past few weeks, and we are committed to ensuring that the safety, privacy, and security of our platform is worthy of the trust of all of our users — both new and existing.

CEO Eric Yuan

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