Wiltshire Police have issued a warning to businesses taking staff meetings and networking events online to be aware of a phenomenon known as Zoom-bombing.
Incidents take their name from the popular video networking app Zoom and incidents of unwanted guests hijacking the video conference.
Wiltshire Police say they have received reports of inappropriate language or the display of offensive or indecent images.
Detective inspector Gemma Vinton at the Digital Investigations and Intelligence Unit, said: "Incidents of this nature have been reported globally as well as in the UK recently.
"However, we have now, unfortunately, had three reports within Wiltshire in the last week. These 'zoom-bombings' have involved extremely unpleasant indecent child-abuse video footage being shown via screen sharing by a meeting participant who was not known to the organisers of the video conferences.
"The meetings were publicised on social media with limited security settings, so we're urging individuals and businesses alike to remain vigilant and ensure settings are fixed correctly to prevent future occurrences."
Police and crime commissioner, Angus Macpherson, added "This is an extremely malicious online crime which can have lasting effects on the victims and particularly the host of the meeting feeling responsible.
"It is difficult to understand the motives: it could be pranksters simply aiming to prove that they 'can' infiltrate a conference and cause a stir and a bit of embarrassment; or it could stem from a much darker, more sinister place.
"The important thing to remember is it's possible to prevent uninvited guests to your video calls, as it's vital we all continue to stay in touch."
Police have issued the following guidelines.
- Make the meeting private by either setting up a password or using a 'waiting room' feature which allows the host to control entry, these should both be set as a default on the App.
- Consider limiting audio or video requirements if necessary, you can prevent attendees from unmuting themselves after entry if required in the settings.
- Limit screen sharing permissions to either just the host or trusted attendees.
- If publicising the event on social media, be extra vigilant with your settings.
- You can also record meetings in Zoom, which will help an investigation in the event of criminal activity. However, you must ensure the participants are aware of any recording being created.
Zoom – which was taken by surprise when interest in its apps surged following coronavirus lockdowns across the globe – has recently issued updates to address security concerns.
Police have published a guide to beefing up Zoom security. It can be viewed or downloaded at https://www.wiltshire.police.uk/media/4957/Zoom-Security-Guide/pdf/Zoom_Security_Guide.pdf