Hack of Pickens County School Board Zoom meeting under investigation

Updated: May. 14, 2020 at 5:05 PM CDT
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PICKENS CO., Ala. (WBRC) - “We apologize for the inconvenience, but the Board meeting was hacked.”

The Pickens County School Board posted that message on their Facebook page after Wednesday’s school board meeting broadcast using Zoom ended prematurely. Thursday, the Pickens County District Attorney’s Office confirmed it is investigating.

“It’s something that we’re all having to live with. We’re being forced to live with because of coronavirus and more people are conducting their business through these virtual medium so it’s certainly a concern,” District Attorney Andy Hamlin said.

A later school board Facebook post included an apology for inappropriate pictures and language that appeared in that Zoom meeting. Dr. Matthew Hudnall, a cyber security expert with the University of Alabama, said “zoom-bombing” is happening more often.

“Lots of hackers are now taking it on as a sport of their own to see how many meetings they can interrupt and they get credit for higher level meetings they can interrupt,” he explained.

Hudnall suggested ways you can protect yourself FROM getting “zoom bombed” if you host a virtual meeting.

“The fundamental one and the one that is the most easy is just creating a new meeting I-D for every single meeting and having a password system. That will defeat 99 per cent of the security issues people are facing,” he added.

Superintendent Jamie Chapman with Pickens County Schools said they are now considering other live streaming options at this time. Hudnall also offered some other suggestions that could help make your zoom meeting more secure.

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