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Dublin GAA club apologises to parents after kids online coaching session is 'Zoombombed' with inappropriate content

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The Dublin GAA club Ballymun Kickhams has had to apologise to parents after an online coaching session for young children on the Zoom platform was hacked with inappropriate content shown to those in the session.

It is the latest in a series of ‘Zoombombing’ incidents, where hackers or pranksters log into an ongoing Zoom meeting and use the service’s ‘share screen’ feature to show other participants unwanted images.

“Sincere apologies to those that logged onto our Nursery session this morning,” said Ballymun Kickhams in a public post to parents. “Unfortunately, we were hacked. We hope that this did not cause distress to you or your children.”

The club had posted the access link to the online Zoom meeting on its own Facebook and Twitter accounts yesterday to give parents advance notice of the session. This “gave an opportunity for hackers to get in,” the club said. “We live and learn.”

The statement added that the club has conducted Zoom sessions before “without anything happening”.

Unless a Zoom meeting is locked or password-protected, uninvited users can enter the online meeting if they have the 9-digit link code. Unless the host of the meeting has restricted screen sharing to host-only in the user settings, anyone can use the ‘share screen’ functionality of the service.

Zoom has faced some criticism over its security and privacy levels, with the company forced to pause future feature development until its tightens its security up. It has been accused of making it too easy for hackers to access others’ online sessions. The practice of ‘Zoombombing’, where hackers or pranksters search for Zoom ID codes and then join the meeting uninvited, only to force unwanted content onto others’ screens using the ‘share screen’ function. It is a particular problem with large Zoom meetings, where hosts are less likely to individually scrutinise the credentials of each joining participant.

In response, Zoom will soon require a ‘waiting room’ for people joining, giving the host of the online meeting more control over letting people in individually. The service will now also require people joining to use passwords.

Zoom has gone from 10m users to 200m users in just three months because of the Covid-19 lockdown.

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