Hackers interrupt women of influence Zoom with ‘horrible words, horrible visuals'

“They took over the screen and drew pornography pictures. Swastikas on the screen,” says Gary Pyott of the Aventura Marketing Council, which was hosting the presentation.

AVENTURA, Fla. – The flyer says it was supposed to be a Zoom conversation with women of influence.

People like the CEO of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and the president and COO of OneUnited Bank.

It was 40 minutes into the conversation when random images started popping up, like a message that read, “From President Trump to everyone: God Bless White America.”

“You hear about it. You just don’t think it’s really going to happen to you or you don’t think it’s going to be that bad,” says Elaine Adler, president of the Aventura Marketing Council & Chamber, which was hosting. “Just horrible words. Horrible visuals. It got to the point it was had just really crossed the line.”

It’s a trend called Zoombombing that has grown in prominence since the online video conferencing platform has become ubiquitous during the coronavirus pandemic.

And in this case, it only got worse.

“They took over the screen and drew pornography pictures. Swastikas on the screen,” says Gary Pyott, the Aventura Marketing Council’s chairman.

About 70 people were online watching it unfold.

“It was very racist,” Pyott said. “It was inappropriate. It was profanity.”

Aventura police now have a copy of the Zoom video and are investigating along with the FBI. The group is planning to try again with its meeting — this time with a little more security.

“We cannot stop living our lives and fighting the good fight because of these very sick people,” Adler said.

Zoom security

Coincidentally, Zoom said Wednesday that it will soon begin enabling end-to-end encryption of calls for both its paid and free users.

Ashley Moody, Florida’s attorney general, had sent multiple warnings to residents about Zoombombing, including an alert Thursday that some hackers have broken into calls to show child pornography.

The attorney general provided tips to prevent hackers from breaking into your video conferences:

  • Create separate passwords for each virtual meeting
  • Establish a Zoom waiting room for meeting participants
  • Lock down the meeting once everyone invited to attend has joined
  • Do not publicly post meeting links on social media or any other public forum

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.