Zoom to fix security holes that allow hackers to hijack classes, meetings

Published: Apr. 2, 2020 at 4:00 PM EDT
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As people isolate at home, video conferencing is the new normal. The popular app Zoom says its number of users has ballooned from about 10 million to hundreds of millions. Now, attackers with other agendas have also discovered Zoom.

CBS' Anna Werner spoke with Zoom's CEO and a Long Island mother who asked her last name not be used because she fears more online attacks.

Michelle says her 14-year-old daughter was online in a class for her private girls' modern orthodox high school when some boys "Zoom-bombed" it.

"First, the screens were completely black and they were saying all these anti-Semitic things, cursing them out, saying you F-ing Jews, et cetera. And then one boy suddenly stripped and was naked," Michelle said.

She says her daughter was upset.

"She was very embarrassed by it. And she just said, 'I can't talk about it,'" Michelle said.

"The internet brings out base instincts in people. It's true with every new platform," said Nicholas Thompson of Wired magazine.

Thompson says hackers are taking advantage of the millions of new Zoom users.

"They don't know the privacy settings. They don't know how to secure it. And so suddenly, they're vulnerable to monsters who want to interrupt and insult them," Thompson said.

Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan says his company wasn't prepared for the influx of regular users.

"I think this is a mistake and lesson learned," he said.

Yuan says businesses using Zoom typically require employees to use passwords, something first-time users often don't do.

Reporter Anna Werner: Is it fair, though, to blame the users? Doesn't the company have a responsibility to protect them on the front end? You know, given that you guys are the experts on your own system.

Eric Yuan: Absolutely right, I think that's why I say we do not do a good job. When we offer the free service, we should have a training session, we should enable a password... Looking back, we should have done that. Absolutely. This our oversight.

But tell that to Donnell Williams, who heads the National Association of Real Estate Brokers. He had more than 200 people in a Zoom conference meeting when someone hacked in and drew a picture of male genitalia on the screen and then started making racist comments.

"And then the slurs, I mean, using the N-word. I mean, in front of all of my attendees, the people in our community," Williams said.

"I think there's going to be a brand hit, without a doubt," Thompson said. "People are gonna have a few negative connotations about Zoom bombs and privacy failures for a long time with this company."

On the other hand, he says most people still want the service, including the people we interviewed, on Zoom, for this story.

"I don't blame Zoom one bit," Michelle said. "This was a bad experience for these children. Hopefully, it won't happen again, for sure."

Zoom's CEO told us he's taking steps to address what he calls these unforeseen issues.

Passwords have now been put in place for all users by default and K-12 schools will take additional steps.

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