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Cyber Crime – Who’s Zoomin’ Who?

Sunday, November 14th, 2021

On 11th November 2021 the forum’s Zoom meeting was, unfortunately, interrupted by an unknown person who infiltrated the meeting using a link that had been shared on Twitter. This person disrupted the meeting and subjected the attendees to offensive material. An investigation was conducted by Thames Valley Police, however due to the link being shared via social media it was impossible to identify the culprit. We would like to remind members of the forum that secure links should not be shared on any social media platforms.

The meeting was aborted. This was especially disappointing, as many residents, members of the Police and Council officers had dedicated time to attending. But more than that, the vileness of the intrusion was quite shocking, and we must apologise to all who experienced it.

We must also learn from it. Cyber crime is so difficult to track down after the event, that the best defence is to understand the issues and vulnerabilities, and have robust procedures, to guard against being targetted.

One of the recipients of the meeting link shared it on Twitter and Facebook. No doubt with the best of intentions, but it is very likely that this is what opened the door to malicious hackers.

Immediate lessons

  • Only send the link to those who request it (which we do already), and stress that it should NOT be shared in a public space, least of all social media
  • Request those attending the meeting to use an identifiable name when they come on, and consider adding a registration step requesting details – this will help the ‘gatekeeper’ of the meeting.
  • If we see the details have been shared publicly, we shall set up the meeting afresh, with new details, and send out an emergency e-mail to respondents (no matter how short the notice). If Zoom gets wind of a link being shared publicly, it will normally contact the meeting host.

The incident was reported as a crime, and of course a number of Police officers were present. Realistically, however, the perpetrators could be anywhere. Hence the emphasis on doing as much as one can to protect the meeting from violation in the first place.

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