Police investigate 'Zoom-Bombing' in Winnetka

Winnetka police are trying to figure out how people spewed hate and showed porn during school lessons.

It comes amid growing concerns about how to keep meetings safe as hackers break into video conferencing platforms like Zoom.

The FBI is warning of “Zoom-Bombing,” which is when hackers bust into virtual meetings with hate speech and pornographic images.

Now, Winnetka police are investigating two incidents at local schools.

“As with anything, hackers will find ways to get access to your information, whether it's your corporate secrets, financial information, what not,” said Steven Bova.

Bova is the Chief Security Information Officer with Hillard Heintze Consulting. He says there are easy ways to protect virtual meetings.

At Washburn School in Winnetka, an eighth grade google hangouts meeting was interrupted by two unidentified visitors using anti-Semitic and racist language. The district is investigating and believes the voices were adolescents, not adults.

Bova says all meeting hosts should set up a strong password and virtual waiting room, which Zoom just made standard.

“Only send out emails to those participants that have truly been invited and when you use a waiting room, you can authorize people to enter and exit the meeting,” Bova said.

New Trier High School says student athletes were on a Zoom video conference with a speaker from Loyola University when someone took over the screen and displayed pornographic images and a swastika. The school says they won't allow any more meetings hosted outside its secure system.

Bova says all meeting hosts need to take control of what is seen and shared.

“If you need to turn off video, turn off annotation, turn off audio - so even if someone were to get access to your meeting, they can't do anything,” Bova said.

Winnetka police don't think the incidents at the two local schools are connected, but say they're taking both very seriously and urging adults and students not to share links or passwords for virtual meetings.