‘Zoom bombing’ and cyber safety when it comes to virtual learning

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(WJMN) – With many kids doing virtual learning this school year, this could bring up issues regarding cybersecurity.

“Zoom bombing” is a phrase you might have heard in the new age of video conferencing. It’s when someone enters a virtual meeting they’re not invited to and cause disruptions.

“Some professors at Northern Michigan University have been Zoom bombed,” said Jim Marquardson, NMU assistant professor of Information Assurance and Cyber Defense. “They had people come in and yell profanity or they shared inappropriate images or things on their screen. It’s more psychologically harmful. You’re not going to get a computer virus or anything like that. But, it can be extremely upsetting for participants and meeting leaders.”

Methods to prevent Zoom bombing is to require a password to enter a video conference/Zoom meeting, and using the wait room option. This allows the host of the video conference to see who is entering the meeting, and manually allows admittance.

Aside from Zoom bombing, there are other potential problems that may come from virtual learning and the increased usage of devices at home.

“Honestly, a lot of the potential damage isn’t coming from maybe strangers outside on the internet. A lot of the potential damage actually comes from peers at school. Online bullying, harassment. In a meeting, they can send chat messages back and forth which might not always be as positive as we would like them to be. And so that’s a lot of concern for a lot of parents.”

Marquardson offers advice for parents navigating virtual learning with their children.

“One of the things I think parents really need to emphasize is having an open dialogue with their kids. There should be no secrets between parents and their children about what they’re accessing, how they’re learning, those kinds of things.”

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