The other day I got a message from a local company offering a virtual wine tasting event, which was thoroughly appreciated and embraced by the general public during lockdown. Their invites were sent out via zoom for everyone to join the virtual gathering. It was going well, and everyone was enjoying the session, until the virtual gathering was hacked and offensive child pornography was now looming on everyone’s screens.  The hosts did not know what to do, so they carried on, trying their best, but did not end the session and thus leaving some very concerned, distraught and offended participants.

This is not the first incident of this type I have recently heard about and generally, people are not sure what to do when these terrible things happen. They are just good citizens trying to keep their business afloat or connecting with others to share information. We are in unprecedented times and we want to be able to socially engage, therefore there is an understandable increase in popularity of using Zoom, House Party, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google hangouts, etc which has unfortunately raised their profile to online hackers. These types of technology resources are keeping us all going in one format or another.

We do not know people’s stories and we do not know how people may be affected by such incidents. There is huge amount information on the internet about how to use these platforms securely, such as the basics of locking meetings once all the participants have joined; restricting the call feature and only allow to record by trusted participants or the host; using unique ID numbers or passwords for access; invite only; use waiting rooms, etc.

I felt it was extremely important and necessary to let people know what to do if anything like this happens to you:

  • End the online session straight away
  • Report the incident to the police
  • Contact everyone and check how they are. Give them the contact details for Victim Support https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/
  • Review the online platform you are using to and make every effort that you can to continue to use it safely and securely in the future.

If there is anyone who would like any support, advice or guidance, please get in touch with us.