The FBI previously addressed so-called "Zoom-bombing," saying it had received multiple reports of hackers taking over streams

By Rachel DeSantis
April 28, 2020 11:26 AM
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Credit: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

A New Jersey school district is hitting the brakes on using Zoom for remote learning purposes after a hacker showed pornographic images and used racist language during a middle school class.

Joe Langowski, superintendent of Lumberton Township Public Schools, said Monday that the district would temporarily stop using Zoom following the incident, which lasted about 15 seconds, according to a letter obtained by PEOPLE and first reported by NJ.com.

A Lumberton Middle School teacher and co-host were monitoring the meeting’s room, and were able to quickly end the session and alert administrators, Langowski said in the letter.

“We have worked tirelessly to develop a superior educational experience for the children of Lumberton in these most difficult times, but as always, the safety of our children is paramount,” Langowski wrote. “Therefore, we will be suspending the use of Zoom temporarily while we determine if it can continue to be used safely for our students.”

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The incident is under investigation by the Lumberton Township Police Department, while the district’s technology department is looking into how the hacker was able to skirt security measures.

Those measures were addressed in a letter issued by Langowski on April 20 that said the district had put in place things like password protection and the waiting room feature, in which educators only permit entry to those they know.

A spokesperson for Zoom said in a statement to PEOPLE that it was “deeply upset to hear about these types of incidents,” and strongly condemned the hacker’s behavior.

The spokesperson said Zoom has been updating features so that users can more easily protect their meetings.

“Zoom is committed to providing educators with the tools and resources they need on a safe and secure platform, and we are continuing to engage with all of our users on how they can best use Zoom and protect their meetings,” said the company, which did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

The incident follows other similar instances involving students — earlier this month, a teacher in New York’s Unatego Central School District told CBS affiliate WRGB someone hacked her 7th grade English class and started yelling profanity.

Adam Dean, a senior security specialist with Grey Castle Security, told the outlet that the hackers likely found the classes thanks to students sharing the class link with many people.

“There is also a couple of cases where the attackers are, in a sense, forcing the links, so they’re trying every single meeting ID until they get one that works,” he explained.

The FBI called the hacking “Zoom-bombing” in a press release in March, and said it had received multiple reports of streams being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language.

The release told users to make meetings and classrooms private, and to only provide links directly to specific people. The FBI also said to make sure that only hosts had the ability to screenshare.