Cases of Zoombombing reported at Union


Akriti Dhasmana

Most of the classes at Union are being conducted via Zoom this term.

Sydney Lewis, co-News Editor

At least two cases of “Zoombombing” have occurred in classes at Union College, since the beginning of the new term. With Union students, as well as millions of people around the world adjusting to online classes, the video calling software Zoom has seen a dramatic rise in its number of users. The term “Zoombombing” has entered our everyday vernacular due to the infiltration of hackers into these Zoom video calls now used for online learning. A geology class and a history class have been identified as those affected by these occurrences.  

On April 4, Union students received an email from Dean Fran’Cee Brown-McClure, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, detailing how the school is working to combat this problem and keep online classes free of intruders. At the moment, the school has no reason to believe that the person or persons who entered the call were Union students. In the email Dean Fran’Cee wrote:

“We hope that the greater Union College community understands that while we are adapting to new and challenging times, we are working harder than ever to ensure that the behavioral standards of our College community are evident in all of our endeavors. Behavior like Zoombombing does not align with the values of Union College, and individuals who engage in this kind of behavior will be subject to conduct proceedings.”

To ensure privacy of the participants during these meetings there were several recommendations mentioned in the email such as using the option to have the screen sharing option set to “Host Only” and making sure to allow “only authenticated users” to join. By enforcing regulations such as these during the online classes and meetings there is a smaller chance that “outsiders” will be able to infiltrate. Since the incident, Zoom has been making changes itself. According to The Verge, Zoom has decided to halt the development of new features for the next three months to improve its user and platform defenses. Students are advised to reach out to Ryan Ribiero from the Office of Community Standards if they are in need of anything related to the Zoombombing.

Abigail Stack ’21, a participant of the infiltrated geology class, told the Concordiensis, “the Zoombombing was a complete disruption for the class and even after restarting the lecture a second time the hacker was still present. Although the lighting was dark and his face was not too visible, he looked of college age.” 

Since the two incidents, no more cases of hacking have been reported at Union as of April 7. In response to how the transition to online learning has been, Dean Fran’Cee said, “It’s been an adjustment for everyone, but most people seem to be adapting well and we continue to support our students and faculty as any issues arise.” She also shared that directly after the incident, “We followed up with students and the professor to better understand what happened. We made the community aware and reminded everyone of our community standards. ITS is investigating to determine how it happened and who may have been involved.”