© 2023 90.7 WMFE. All Rights Reserved.
Public Media News for Central Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Orange County Public Schools Are the Latest Victim of Zoombombing: What Is It and How Can Teachers Protect Their Students?

Photo: Christin Hume @christinhumephoto
Photo: Christin Hume @christinhumephoto

Orange County Public Schools will continue to allow teachers to use Zoom after a man hacked into an online class on the videoconference platform and exposed himself.

The incident is part of a larger nationwide trend called Zoombombing where uninvited guests interrupt calls.

After the incident, Orange County Public Schools sent out an email to teachers recommending they use another videoconferencing platform called BigBlueButton.

But Senior Director of Digital Learning Maurice Draggon says teachers still have the option to use Zoom in their online classrooms. 

“There’s not a mandate that says that a teacher can only use this software and they cannot use any other software.”

[audio wav="https://www.wmfe.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/zoom-1-1.wav"][/audio]

Rollins’ College computer science professor Dan Meyers says there are ways to protect zoom conferences. 

“So, if you’ve used Zoom before typically when you join a call you put in a nine to eleven digit ID number. But you also have the option to set an additional password. Only people that have the password then are able to join the call.”

[audio wav="https://www.wmfe.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/13002_ZOOM_DANIELLE.wav"][/audio]

Stetson University computer science professor Joshua Eckroth says teachers can also use a virtual lobby where they can screen callers and turn off individual microphones or video cameras.

But Eckroth says all it takes is for one student to share the link to a videoconference for these layers of protection to fail.

"And hackers when they find these links somehow they see on Twitter, they see it on a website for the school. Hackers love to share information with each other. It's kind of a game for them. So, there are places where they'll all collect these. And so you'll get people trying to do Zoombombing who have nothing to do with your school, nothing to do with your state. They just found a list and they're just trying all of them."

[audio wav="https://www.wmfe.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/hello-.wav"][/audio]

Virtual learning in the district began on Monday.
If you'd like to listen to the story, click on the clips above.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
90.7 WMFE relies on donors like you. Your support allows us to provide independent, trustworthy journalism and fact-based content. Show your support today by contributing on a monthly basis or making a single online donation.