THE DARK SIDE OF ZOOM AN FBI WARNING
FBI Warns of Child Sexual Abuse Material Being Displayed During Zoom Meetings
The FBI wants to warn people about the dark side of Zoom, where criminals can hijack your meetings and display child sexual abuse material. Nearly 200 active FBI investigations are underway nationwide. FBI Supervisory Special Agent Tim Wolford was asked about what you should do if this happens to you or your business.
“There’s been about 195 cases nationwide…” said Supervisory Special Agent Wolford. “During several of these meetings, there were individuals who were participants in the meeting that weren’t specifically invited or supposed to be there, and they shared their screens and essentially showed videos of child sexual abuse material to the rest of the participants in the meeting.” Wolford added that everyone in the meeting could now unwillingly possess child pornography.
“If you are a host or administrator of a Zoom meeting where this has happened, you need to make sure you reach out to us and notify us immediately. Don’t delete any content or logs off of your computer. It helps our investigation if we are able to collect that information,” said Wolford.
After reaching out to the FBI, follow these steps for any future meetings:
- Require a password for every meeting and never post the password publicly on a website or on social media.
- Only email the password to people invited to the meeting.
- Adjust settings to only allow the meeting host to share his or her screen with the group.
- Set up a “waiting room” and manually allow or deny people trying to enter the meeting.
“Participants log in to the waiting room and the host or administrator can see who is in that waiting room, and then grant access to the individual participants who are supposed to be there,” said Wolford.
If you’re a participant in one of these affected meetings, sometimes people are recording the happenings of the meeting. If that happens, you’ll need to make sure the FBI removes this illegal material from your device.
The COVID-19 crisis has caused many organizations and schools to conduct virtual meetings and events, some of which are open to the public. Additionally, links to many virtual events are being shared online, resulting in a lack of vetting of approved participants.
During the past few months, the FBI has received more than 195 reports of incidents throughout the United States and in other countries in which a Zoom participant was able to broadcast a video depicting child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
The FBI considers this activity to be a violent crime, as every time child sexual abuse material is viewed, the depicted child is re-victimized. Furthermore, anyone who inadvertently sees child sexual abuse material depicted during a virtual event is potentially a victim as well.
The FBI is committed to apprehending any individual who produces or distributes child sexual abuse material and is seeking the public’s assistance to identify the person or persons responsible for these egregious crimes.
- If you’re the administrator or host of a Zoom meeting in which CSAM was broadcast, please contact the FBI; do not delete or destroy any of your computer logs without further direction.
- If you recorded a Zoom meeting in which child sexual abuse material was broadcast, please contact the FBI for assistance in removing the CSAM from your device.
- If you believe you’re a victim of a child sexual abuse material broadcast during a Zoom event, as defined above, please contact the FBI to learn about your victim rights and possible victim assistance.
- If you know who is committing these most recent egregious crimes, please contact the FBI.
The following steps may mitigate future child sexual abuse material issues during Zoom events:
- Do not make meetings or classrooms public. In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private:
- Require a meeting password.
- Use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guests.
- Do not share a link to a teleconference or classroom on an unrestricted, publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific attendees.
- Manage screensharing options. In Zoom, change screensharing to “Host Only.”
If you’re a victim of child sexual abuse material being broadcast during a Zoom event or if you have information regarding the identity of any individual distributing or producing CSAM, please report it to the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or anonymously online at tips.fbi.gov.
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- The Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) https://thepbsa.org/
- Southern California Fraud Investigators Association
- World Association of Detectives
- California Association of Licensed Investigators
Need a private investigator?
Sunset Blvd. Investigations, Inc. provides seasoned and effective private investigation services for clients throughout the United States and Internationally. Our combined 80 years as law enforcement officers coupled with our private investigative experience distinguishes us from all other investigation businesses. If you’re in need of a private investigator, we’re here to assist you in any way we can.