Utah elementary students exposed to porn after hackers target Zoom learning session with principal

It is believed that the online class was hacked after the institution posted meeting ID and a link to join on its Facebook page two hours prior to when the class was scheduled to start


                            Utah elementary students exposed to porn after hackers target Zoom learning session with principal
(Getty Images)

PLEASANT GROVE, UTAH: After an elementary school’s Zoom e-learning session with its principal was hijacked by hackers, around 50 of its students were exposed to X-rated pornography on their computer screens.

This is part of an infamous emerging online trend called "Zoom-bombing". 

The incident took place on April 1, when the principal of Pleasant Grove, Utah's Grovecrest Elementary School, was interacting with the students of the temporarily closed school, Alpine School District official Kimberly Bird told KUTV

After realizing what was being displayed on the screen, the principal acted swiftly to delete a torrent of pornography and derogatory language which flooded the computer screens of the children. The graphic porn was up on the screen for just a few seconds.

Following what could easily have been an emotional scarring episode for the minors, the school put up a statement on its social media page, apologizing for the incident. "It would be a good idea to talk with your children who may have heard or seen what was shared. It is very sad that someone thought it funny to hack into our meeting and share some pretty horrible stuff, even for a few seconds," the statement on the school's Facebook page read.

"So sorry for the inappropriateness of someone who bombed our meeting. I will start another one at 10:45 and it will be password protected. Starting next week, they will start again at 10:00. I will send the password via parent message. I will change the password each week. I have called and reported it to the police. Again, so sorry," it added as the principal saying.

The incident has been referred to the Pleasant Grove Police Department for investigation. It is believed that the online class was hacked after the institution posted the meeting information, including the meeting ID and a link to join, on its Facebook page two hours prior to when the class was scheduled to start.

As the school district will likely have to depend on online classes for an indefinite amount of time owing to the coronavirus outbreak, the school administrators were said to be holding a meeting to determine a set of guidelines to adhere to while conducting such classes in the future so that unwanted hijacking of videoconferences can be avoided. 

Zoom founder Eric Yuan poses in front of the Nasdaq building as the screen shows the logo of the video-conferencing software company Zoom after the opening bell ceremony on April 18, 2019 in New York City (Getty Images)

While Zoom, the remote conferencing services company, saw an influx of new users joining its platform in the middle of a pandemic that forced a large number of people to work from home, it also exposed security loopholes in the software making it an easy target for hackers. As a result, the company was forced to post an explanatory video on its YouTube page with instructions on how to prevent "Zoom-bombing" during conference calls.

A Zoom meeting with Utah GOP Party leaders was hacked last week, and all the participants were greeted with pornography. 

The US Attorney’s office for the state’s Eastern district issued a press release on April 3 on the Department of Justice’s website that declared "Zoom-bombing" to be a federal offense that could land the perpetrator in jail. 

“You think Zoom bombing is funny? Let’s see how funny it is after you get arrested,” stated Matthew Schneider, the US Attorney for the Eastern Michigan district, in a statement. “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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