Parliament’s Programme Committee meeting held on the morning of 7 May was invaded by users who barraged participants with offensive images, according to reports from those watching the live meeting.
Before the meeting began, the official Parliament of South Africa Twitter account published the details for the Zoom meeting, which included the password to access the video conference.
By publishing the password to the meeting, Parliament allowed anyone to join and participate in the cloud-based video call.
This resulted in one user joining the Zoom meeting shortly after it began and displaying a variety of offensive images as well as shouting racial abuse at speaker Thandi Modise.
Times Live reported that shortly after this invasion the meeting was ended and a new meeting was set up on a different platform, the password of which was not shared.
Following the offensive incursion, participants stated that a report from the secretariat is expected as to how the breach occurred.
At this point, the meeting continued as planned and was broadcasted live by Parliament.
With the increased reliance on video conferencing software, many users have failed to secure their meetings properly, resulting in the phenomenon of “Zoom-bombing” becoming widespread.
This act comprises online trolls invading the video calls of unsuspecting users who have shared their URLs or passwords publicly, allowing anybody to join their meeting with no authorisation.
Attackers gain access to these meetings in multiple ways – such as through Zoom.us URLs that could be found with a simple Google search.
To help combat this type of activity, Zoom has begun adding more control over the use of personal meeting IDs.
Starting from 9 May, free users will be required to enter a password to access meetings. Free accounts will also have waiting rooms and host-only screen sharing turned on by default.
With waiting rooms enabled, hosts are required to approve participants before they can enter a video meeting.
This provides an extra barrier that prevents unknown parties from joining a call and sharing provocative or offensive content.