Zoom Sued by Church After Bible Class Hijacked by Child Porn

A church in California is suing video chat company Zoom, after a hacker allegedly hijacked a virtual Bible study class and posted graphic images of sexual child abuse.

A hacker took over users’ computers and played “sick and disturbing videos”, according to the lawsuit filed by Saint Paulus Lutheran Church.

The church’s leadership immediately contacted Zoom for help, but the company “did nothing”, the suit says.

“The footages were sickening – portraying adults engaging in sex acts with each other and performing sex acts on infants and children, in addition to physically abusing them”, according to the complaint filed Wednesday in federal court.

The Lutheran church is not alone. A term known as “Zoombombed” has started to become a common phrase in 2020’s common vernacular. “Zoombombing” is when an uninvited person joins a Zoom meeting. This is usually done in an attempt to gain a few cheap laughs at the expense of the participants. Zoombombers often hurl racial slurs or profanity, or share pornography and other offensive imagery.

Zoombombing reveals a serious flaw in the system, showing that others can infiltrate your online meetings.

Taiwan became the first nation to ban Zoom when they learned their their communications traffic was being routed through Beijing, even though their participants used Zoom while in the USA. This means that Zoom communications are increasingly being accessed by China.

The government of India has now also said that Zoom is not safe. “Zoom is a not a safe platform,” the Cyber Coordination Centre (CyCord) of India’s ministry of home affairs said in a 16-page (PDF) advisory. “Platform not for use by government officers/officials for official purposes,” said Press Bureau of India in a statement.

Germany has now also banned Zoom.

Several companies including Google, Apple, NASA, and Tesla have also warned their employees from using Zoom. This is not just because of security concerns of being Zoombombed like the Lutheran church, but because of suspected access of information by the Chinese government, as BTJ reported last month.

BTJ is a paying customer of ZOOM and has reached out to ZOOM by both phone and email to ask if their software is open to the Chinese government. ZOOM could not answer the question in person or by email, which leads us to assume that our suspicions are correct – it’s highly probable that the Chinese government has access to ZOOM conference calls, if they request it.

Our suspicions were further confirmed when last week, a team of researchers from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab discovered that some traffic from Zoom was being sent through Beijing – even when all participants on the Zoom call were in North America. They also discovered that Zoom has several hundred employees in mainland China.

BTJ has other safety measures in place to know if our conferences are being viewed by outside parties and is currently looking for an alternative software to ZOOM that is more secure.