Connecticut Teen Arrested for Allegedly 'Zoom Bombing' Virtual High School Lessons and Using 'Obscene Language and Gestures'

A Connecticut teenager was arrested on computer crime charges this week after being accused of "Zoom bombing" virtual classes held by staff at Daniel Hand High School.

The juvenile male suspect, who is not being named due to his age, is facing multiple criminal charges after being accused of repeatedly hijacking educational lessons while using "obscene language and gestures," Madison Police Captain Joseph Race told the Hartford Courant newspaper.

Police said incidents were traced back to the boy after being reported to the department and an arrest took place on Wednesday. Officials confirmed he is a Madison resident.

The suspect was charged on suspicion of committing a fifth-degree computer crime, fifth-degree conspiracy to commit a computer crime and breach of peace, police said.

News of the arrest comes after the FBI warned that meetings on the video call platform were being targeted by hackers and pranksters—a process known as "Zoom bombing"—as people started to rely on the app to remotely communicate during lockdowns in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The federal agency said incidents had been reported nationwide, and stressed that users should ensure Zoom meetings are password-protected and IDs are never publicized on social media.

In one incident last month, a Massachusetts-based high school Zoom session had been taken over by a person who yelled profanities before shouting the teacher's home address, the FBI said. On social media, users warned that their conferences were hijacked to display pornograhic material.

The New Haven Register reported Race said officers had identified a co-conspirator in New York who also targeted classes in Madison, and noted that an arrest warrant was now pending. "If you walk into a classroom and do what he [the teen] did to a teacher, you would be arrested," he stated.

The Madison Public Schools district has now ditched Zoom in favor of rival video software Google Meet, superintendent Tom Scarice said in a letter to parents that was also shared to Facebook.

"We have decided to suspend use of Zoom for whole group instruction until the district can have more assurance that Zoom has addressed security concerns," he wrote.

"The many features in Google Classroom continue to serve as the primary district platform and we will be transitioning teachers to use the Google Meet feature for live sessions. Once staff is familiar with the use of Google Meet, we will resume our live sessions."

Superintendent Scarice continued: "We understand that staff and students were looking forward to face-to-face interactions and we look forward to resuming this using Google Meet. Thank you for your patience as we work to provide the best possible structure for distance learning."

For its part, Zoom outlined the best ways of protecting video meetings in a blog post published on March 20. "Like most other public forums, it's possible to have a person (who may or may not be invited) disrupt an event that's meant to bring people together," the company conceded at the time.

"When you share your meeting link on social media or other public forums, that makes your event... extremely public," Zoom explained in the user guide. "Anyone with the link can join your meeting. Avoid using your Personal Meeting ID (PMI) to host public events. Your PMI is basically one continuous meeting and you don't want randos crashing your personal virtual space after the party's over."

Zoom meeting
Lauryn Morley, a lower school substitute teacher for the Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda, Maryland, works from her home due to the Coronavirus outbreak, on April 1, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia. A teenager in Connecticut was arrested this week after "Zoom bombing" a meeting, police say,