Incidents of zoom-bombing reported in Wiltshire

Alert message sent 15/05/2020 15:41:00

Information sent on behalf of Wiltshire Police

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and people are staying home during lockdown, we’ve been encouraged to find alternative ways to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues. It’s important to keep talking and using technology is a great way to have face-to-face conversations, albeit digitally.

This has led to a huge influx of people downloading new platforms, one of which is Zoom – a video conference application. With its rapid rise in popularity, unfortunately comes a rise in potential risk. Users who are unfamiliar with the app and recommended security settings, can leave themselves open to incidents of ‘zoom-bombing’, whereby uninvited guests are able to hijack the virtual chat sessions with inappropriate language or display offensive or indecent images.

This can understandably be incredibly upsetting and shocking for the members attending. But it’s easy to take a few simple steps to ensure this doesn’t happen when hosting a video call:

1. Make the meeting private by either setting up a password or using a ‘waiting room’ feature which allows the host to control entry, these should both be set as a default on the App.
2. Consider limiting audio or video requirements if necessary, you can prevent attendees unmuting themselves after entry if required in the settings.
3. Limit screen sharing permissions to either just the host or trusted attendees.
If publicising the event on social media, be extra vigilant with your settings.
4. You can also record meetings in Zoom, which will help an investigation in the event of criminal activity, however you must ensure the participants are aware if any recording is being created.

Gemma Vinton, Detective Inspector for the Digital Investigations and Intelligence Unit, said “Incidents of this nature have been reported globally as well as in the UK recently, however we have now unfortunately had three reports within Wiltshire in the last week. These ‘zoom-bombings’ have involved extremely unpleasant indecent child-abuse video footage being shown via screen sharing by a meeting participant who was not known to the organisers of the video conferences.

“The meetings were publicised on social media with limited security settings so we’re urging individuals and businesses alike to remain vigilant and ensure settings are fixed correctly to prevent future occurrences.”

Police and Crime Commissioner, Angus Macpherson, added “This is an extremely malicious online crime which can have lasting effects on the victims and particularly the host of the meeting feeling responsible. It’s difficult to understand the motives: it could be pranksters simply aiming to prove that they ‘can’ infiltrate a conference and cause a stir and a bit of embarrassment; or it could stem from a much darker, more sinister place.

“The important thing to remember is it’s possible to prevent uninvited guests to your video calls, as it’s vital we all continue to stay in touch.”

Please see a useful guide containing screen shots of how to set Zoom security settings here:

Zoom Security Guide

For more information and advice on how to protect yourself against cybercrime visit the Wiltshire Police website

If you have been a victim of cyber-crime report it to the police on 101, or Action Fraud at or call 0300 123 2040.
Message sent by
Sian Rivers (Police, Communications Officer, HQ)

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