Minneapolis police are investigating after someone hacked into a neighborhood group’s video conference, shocking meeting-goers with a child pornographic film.
Members of the Hawthorne Huddle — a monthly meeting of business owners, community leaders, police officers and others, organized by the neighborhood’s association — were in the middle of a Zoom call Thursday when everyone’s screens were suddenly filled with the graphic images.
“Today’s Hawthorne Huddle was hacked by someone who sent an extremely explicit and disturbing child pornography video into our Zoom feed,” Ann DeGroot, of the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board, wrote in an e-mail obtained by the Star Tribune. “(Diana Hawkins of Hawthorne Neighborhood Council) has tracked the hack to a participant’s device which will be helpful in both the investigation and in knowing how to prevent this in the future. The participant did nothing wrong.”
DeGroot’s e-mail said that the group’s meetings in the future would be password-protected to prevent similar intrusions.
Police spokesman John Elder confirmed that the department had launched an investigation.
“We are working on the forensics of tracing back where this came from,” he said, adding that the department works through Microsoft Teams, instead of Zoom because of that platform’s online security issues.
In response to those concerns, some school districts around the country have started to ban the use of Zoom.
Zoom-bombing, or the hacking of Zoom calls, has been frequent in recent weeks as new users join the platform amid the battle against the spread of COVID-19 and the cancellations of public meetings and events.
Other recent hack targets include a Utah elementary school and a virtual meeting of South African lawmakers, whose screens were flooded with pornographic images.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.