BERKELEY (CBS SF) — Berkeley school officials have indefinitely suspended all online video classes after a naked man hacked into a Zoom instruction session, exposed himself to students and began to scream obscenities, officials said.
In a letter sent to parents late Wednesday afternoon , Berkeley schools superintendent Brent Stephens said the incident took place on Tuesday.
“Yesterday there was a serious violation of an online high school classroom meeting conducted in Zoom,” Stephens wrote. “An adult man appeared, exposed himself to students and shouted obscenities. The man was immediately ejected from the session by the teacher. In response, we have informed the Berkeley Police of this incident and reached out to students who were in the classroom and their parents.”
As result, Stephens said, all video online instructions would be placed on hold.
“I understand from the emails I’ve received from many of you that the real time online interaction between students and teachers has been a valuable relief from the sense of isolation during this Shelter-in-Place order,” he wrote. “The temporary suspension of video conferencing, which I hope will last only a few days, will allow us to evaluate the issues we’ve experienced in our first two days of Zoom use. We also plan to continue our review of other video conferencing options, and to reflect further on the support our educators need to reliably enact an adequate set of security precautions.”
Stephens told parents that the teacher had taken all the necessary security procedures to make sure the breach did not happen.
“What is especially troubling about this incident is that it appears that the teacher followed all the current guidance about security precautions in Zoom,” he wrote. “Still, the intruder obtained the credentials for the meeting and was able to gain access to the session. It is simply unacceptable to ignore a risk of this significance.”
Two other steps have also been taken according to the email.
“We have integrated Zoom into our district Clever account, so that students can access Zoom through a known, student-friendly portal that already has BUSD identify verification,” Stephens wrote. “We have configured a new Zoom “corporate” account that will replace all individual teachers’ Zoom accounts.”
He signed off the letter with: “I’m hoping that it’s only a few days until we can resume, and I still feel committed to making this work.”
Just this week, school officials across several San Francisco Bay Area counties announced that students will finish the current academic year being remotely instructed over fears of the spread of the coronavirus. The Berkeley schools were included in that shelter-in-place extension.
According to published reports, school districts in New York, Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas have also suspended their use of the Zoom platform over the last 2 weeks over security and control concerns.