Singapore has discontinued its teachers’ use of the video conferencing tool Zoom after a “very serious incident” during a class at home.
Singapore closed its schools on Wednesday in response to an increasing number of coronavirus cases.
But one mother told local media that obscene pictures appeared on the screen during her daughter’s geography class before two men asked girls to “blink”.
Zoom told the BBC the company was “deeply upset” about the incident.
Zoom recently changed its default settings for home learning and published a guide for teachers to secure their “virtual classrooms”.
What happened in the classroom?
The parents informed the local media that the incidents had happened in a geography course for lower secondary school students.
About 39 children were in the class when the stream was hacked before “two Caucasian men” appeared and made lewd comments. Classes were immediately canceled.
“Learning at home should be a safe place,” said a Straits Times parent. “I know it’s difficult to deal with, but as a parent I’m very concerned.”
It is not known how the hackers got access. Zoom meetings have nine-digit IDs and can theoretically be attended by any user if they are not protected by the organizer.
How did the government react?
“These are very serious incidents,” said Aaron Loh of the government’s Education Technology Department.
“The Ministry of Education is currently investigating both violations and will file a police report if warranted.
“As a precaution, our teachers will stop using zoom until these security issues are resolved.”
Mr. Loh said the government has “outlined to all of our teachers the security measures that they must comply with,” including secure registrations.
What did Zoom say?
“We were deeply upset about this type of incident,” said a spokesman.
“Zoom strongly condemns such behavior, and we encourage users to report such incidents directly to Zoom so we can take appropriate action.”
The company said it “changed default settings” to “enable virtual waiting rooms and ensure that only hosts can share their screens by default”.
A guide to setting up and securing virtual classrooms has also been set up.
Is this the first time that Zoom has been kidnapped?
Zoom is a video conferencing tool that was released to the public in 2013.
But since the Covid-19 pandemic has blocked the world, the use of zoom has “skyrocketed overnight,” the company said recently.
As of last year, the highest number of daily users was 10 million. In March of this year, it reached more than 200 million users a day.
However, this rapid growth has created problems with meetings being kidnapped around the world.
A video conference at a US school was recently interrupted by racist statements, and a meeting of the local government in Pennsylvania was targeted with pornography
In response to the so-called “zoom bombardment,” the company said, “The first rule of the Zoom Club: don’t give up control of your screen.
“You don’t want random people in your public event to take control of the screen and share unwanted content with the group.”
More recently, the company has announced it will spend 90 days “providing the resources needed to proactively identify, address, and fix problems.”