Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Zoom condemns ‘devastating and appalling’ incident

An American communications technology company is appalled after a disturbing incident on Thursday night, April 30, 2020 during an online meeting for the ‘May 16th Miracle’ food drive.

Zoom Video Communications, who provides video and online chat services, told the Sydenham Current they are looking into the incident.

“This incident is truly devastating and appalling, and our user policies explicitly prohibit any obscene, indecent, illegal or violent activity or content on the platform,” Zoom officials said in a statement sent to the Sydenham Current.

“We are looking into this specific incident to ensure the appropriate action is taken.”

Chatham-Kent Police Service officials said they received information last night that a Zoom meeting involving over 200 people discussing the upcoming food drive was hacked and a disturbing video was shown.

The Criminal Investigations Branch and Internet Child Exploitation Unit have taken over the investigation, police officials say.

“Zoom strongly condemns such behaviour and recently updated several features to help our users more easily protect their meetings,” Zoom officials stated.

“We have enabled meeting passwords and virtual waiting rooms by default for users enrolled in our K-12 program school program, as well as our Free Basic and Single Pro users. For all users, we have made the Zoom Meeting ID less visible to help prevent unintended sharing, and we have added a new security icon to the Zoom meeting controls for all hosts to help them quickly access in-meeting security features, including the ability to remove participants and lock meetings, among other actions.”

Zoom officials said in the latest version of Zoom, there is a new ‘Report a User’ feature in the security icon for meeting hosts and co-hosts to flag users, who are misusing the platform, to our Trust & Safety team.

“We encourage users to report any incidents of this kind either to Zoom so we can take appropriate action or directly to law enforcement authorities,” Zoom officials added.

CKPS working with federal & provincial agencies

Officers are concerned for the safety of the children shown in the video and are working with federal and provincial law enforcement agencies to identify them, along with those responsible for sharing the content, Chatham-Kent Police Service officials added.

“We would like to remind everyone that accessing or possessing child pornography and luring are serious criminal offences that may be punishable by imprisonment,” police officials said in a media release.

Police officials say anyone with information regarding last night’s zoom meeting is urged to contact Constable Cole Abbott at colea@chatham-kent.ca or 519-380-6024.

“If anyone would like to further discuss the incident, please know that members of Chatham-Kent Victim Services are available,” police officials say.

Victim Services can be contacted at https://ckvictimservices.com/ or 519-436-6630.

Extremely difficult incident for ‘May 16th Miracle’ organizers

James Rasmussen, one of the organizers for the ‘May 16th Miracle’ event, said the incident was a “grotesque act of hacking.

“All organizers of this event in our wildest dreams never imagined this would happen and we acknowledge that this was extremely difficult for those that were on the call,” Rasmussen said in an email, on behalf of their leadership team.

Rasmussen said their group heard from Chatham-Kent Police Chief Gary Conn on Thursday night who told them the Chatham-Kent police will concentrate all resources to identify the perpetrators responsible and hold them accountable and responsible for this heinous crime.

Rasmussen said Chief Conn told them the community will continue to persevere and remain focused on achieving a miracle on May 16.

Details about the community-wide event can be found, here.

Resources to keep Zoom meetings secure

Zoom provided some resource guides to the Sydenham Current, regarding how to keep Zoom meetings secure:

Zoom published on April 12 a document containing the best practices for securing Zoom meetings.

Zoom tweeted on April 10 a graphic that outlined the top 10 ways for users to secure their Zoom meetings.

Zoom blog posted on April 8 the recently implemented security updates to make meetings more private and secure.

Zoom blog posted on March 20 with guidance for users on how to prevent uninvited guests from joining Zoom meetings.

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