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Connecticut Student Charged with Computer Crimes For 'Zoombombing’ Virtual Classroom

The teenager was able to disrupt multiple online classes, leading the Madison, Conn. school district to suspend its use of Zoom, the video conferencing software.

The trend of “Zoombombing” — or crashing video conference rooms uninvited to disrupt meetings with obscenities, pornographic images or other disturbing behavior — has led to a Connecticut teenager facing computer crime charges.

After disrupting virtual classes held by teachers at Daniel Hand High School in Madison, the student was arrested and charged with a fifth-degree computer crime, fifth-degree conspiracy to commit a computer crime and breach of peace, The Hartford Courant reported.

The teenager was able to join online classes on multiple occasions and used “obscene language and gestures,” said Madison Police Capt. Joseph Race. Authorities also identified a co-conspirator living in New York who assisted in disrupting a Madison class, and an arrest warrant is pending against that individual, according to The New Haven Register.  

“If you walk into a classroom and do what he [the arrested teen] did to a teacher, you would be arrested,” Race told the Courant.

The local school district had used the Zoom platform to connect students and teachers during closures due to the COVID-19 crisis. Now, Madison Public Schools have stopped using Zoom and are turning to Google Meet, a similar teleconferencing software, for virtual classrooms.

Other districts across the country, including New York City schools, have taken similar steps as Zoom addresses criticism over its security practices. In the majority of cases, Zoombombing takes place due to a lack of password protection on meeting rooms and allowing users besides the meeting host to share their screens. The company has released more tutorials and ways for users to implement these protections, along with other protective actions.

Tom Scarice, the superintendent of Madison schools, wrote in a note to parents on Tuesday that the district has “decided to suspend use of Zoom for whole group instruction until the district can have more assurance that Zoom has addressed security concerns.”

“We understand that staff and students were looking forward to face-to-face interactions and we look forward to resuming this using Google Meet,” Scarice wrote. “Thank you for your patience as we work to provide the best possible structure for distance learning.”

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

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