Hackers disrupt conference call with racist symbols, porn
by Matt Bittle
A virtual conference call on helping black-owned businesses and organizations receive federal money took a very unexpected turn Wednesday after a hacker apparently gained control and displayed a racial slur and porn.
Hosted through Zoom by the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus, an informal panel of eight state lawmakers, the forum also featured a few members of Congress and several other officials. It had been going smoothly, but things changed drastically near the end.
Nearly an hour into the call, which was hosted on Zoom, the screen went black. After some initial confusion, participants resumed their discussion, although there was still no picture. The image returned about two minutes later, only to be quickly followed by racist graffiti.
A hacker had evidently taken control of the call.
The hacker scribbled the n-word and drew a swastika, the symbol of Nazi Germany, prompting shock and disgust from a few participants. U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, who is black, then took over, urging participants not to let it bother them.
Lisa Blunt Rochester: “We rebuke hate, we know that there’s a bigger plan here, and it’s all about love and caring for each other as part of a large community,” she said.
About 30 seconds later, a sexually explicit image appeared onscreen.
The Senate staffer operating the call then regained control, according to state Sen. Darius Brown, and after a minute or two of brief closing remarks from a few people, the call ended.
“This was something that was intentional, in my opinion, something to divert from the purpose, mission and cause of why we set up the virtual information session,” Sen. Brown, a Wilmington Democrat and the chair of the Black Caucus, said Wednesday night.
He believes it was something more than an attempt at humor by teenagers.
“You don’t use the word n—– loosely,” Sen. Brown said.
Asked if there were any plans to pursue the incident, he said he’s focusing on helping black businesses and organizations. At any rate, it’s unclear what exactly can be done about the situation.
State Sen. Darius Brown: “Zoom said the company is ‘deeply upset’ by such incidents and encouraged people to contact it or law enforcement after hacks.”
“We have enabled meeting passwords and virtual waiting rooms by default for our Free Basic and Single Pro users. For all users, we have made the Zoom Meeting ID less visible to help prevent unintended sharing, and we have added a new Security icon to the Zoom meeting controls for all hosts to help them quickly access in-meeting security features, including the ability to remove participants and lock meetings, among other actions,” the company said in a statement.
“In the latest version of Zoom, there is a new ‘Report a User’ feature in the Security icon for meeting hosts and co-hosts to flag users, who are misusing the platform, to our Trust & Safety team.”
Rep. Blunt Rochester addressed the incident on her official Facebook page Wednesday night, describing the hack as a racist, sexist and immature act “by somebody who thought they were doing something big and special.”
Comparing it to the COVID-19 outbreak, she implored people to focus on their similarities, not their differences, and spread love.
“Only if we stick together will we be strong and we will make it through this stronger,” she said.
“So, to that person that was trying to destroy the positivity of what we were doing, getting that information out to those small businesses, you did not succeed. … It’s one thing to have a different opinion. We’re all entitled to it.
“But for those of you who just don’t get it, why we’re on this planet, I feel sorry for you. I pray for you. But I want you to know you will not steal our joy.”