Zoom…Bombing

As we all hunker down in the unique manner each one of us hunker down, there is one hunker down phenomena that has, and is currently, sweeping the globe, the virtual meeting site called Zoom.

Zoom allows face-to-face meetings to take place over the web. One can opt out of being seen or heard if one so desires, unless of course you are in my public speaking course, in which case we must see and hear the person. I have been in meetings with a handful of people as well as meetings with well over a hundred participants.

Speaking of which, I am very fortunate and grateful to have a profession where I am able to work remotely, or at a distance. While meeting face-to-face is always my preferred mode of class delivery, it is not absolutely necessary.

I am Jimmy. “Hi Jimmy!” And I am currently a Zoom addict.

So yesterday, when I heard of a new phenomenon called “Zoombombing,” I was reminded that there never will be a shortage of dumbasses in the world. Zoombombing is a term for online hackers who break into meetings and perform any number of dumbass activities, such as draw scribble, put up pornographic pictures, hurl racial slurs, you know, the stuff of dumbasses. Lest we think this is a rare and obscure activity, it is not. Not only have I been hacked, a number of my colleagues have been hacked as well.

My hack was rather benign as someone mysteriously came on and started drawing arrows and such. However, a colleague of Middle Eastern descent was hacked and was bombarded with racial hate speech.

At first when I heard of this dumbass activity, I was both angry and mystified. As I thought more about it, I tried to look at this a bit more rationally. Who would do this? Why would they do it? I am a big believer that to find answers you must first and foremost follow the incentive trail, typically, the money.

Now, the hackers do have the ability to record the meeting and, if potentially highly sensitive information is exchanged, can potentially be exposed to information that could lead to some type of profiteering, I guess. Though I do not know anyone who goes into these meetings to share personal banking information. I guess if they hack one’s personal therapy session a potential blackmail could be on the table? Maybe. Though this still sounds more Black Mirror than reality.

Then it hit me. Kids. It has to be kids. Who has a desire to be a little dumbass dick and there is nothing in it financially, or otherwise, for them? Kids. And perhaps some developmentally stifled adults who have the brains of a 13-year-old. I was 13 once. And I thought this way. Not that I ever really did anything about it, yet I remember having impish thoughts of how satisfying/fun/hilarious it would be to wreak havoc for, well, no good reason.

When one is 13, hormones and glandular wackiness aside, these emerging adults are going through the ringer. They not only have little control over their own lives, they desperately lack impulse control. And what does every 13-year-old lack that they deeply desire? Some type of power or control in an otherwise chaotic adolescent world. Certainly, there is no financial gain in it for them, yet there is an emotional gain and a weird, 13-year-old type of satisfaction.

So as the Zoom powers-that-be scramble to get their software ahead of the hackers, we can all be reminded that humanity really has not changed.

When I was 13 it was “ding dong ditch,” or a bag of dog poop lit on fire on someone’s porch, or a good “teepee-ing” of your neighbor’s house down the street or a slew of prank phone calls, the list goes on. Sure technology changes, though 13-year-olds do not.

I am not equating hurling racial slurs with lighting dog shit on fire. The former is far more disgusting and revolting than the latter. However, if we had the ability in 1975 for 13-year-olds to say whatever they wanted with the complete assurance of anonymity, these little dumbasses may have spent less time on stranger’s porches risking getting caught with dogshit and more time behind a screen saying dumbshit stuff.

So Zoom, I am not sure you can create enough safeguards to curtail dumbasses from being dumbasses.  At a time when dumbasses were born into a digital age when computer code is practically grafted into their DNA upon birth, it’s a losing battle.

That said, I’ll start using passwords just to be safe. And if I do get hacked, I hope it’s an entertaining dumbass.

 

 

 

 

 

jimmysintension

11 Comments

  1. Hey Jimmy how are you n the fam during this uncertainty and chaos. Knowing your free spirit I’m sure you are great. Funny I used zoom once for an interview and tonight I’m throwing a doom party.🤣Thectine we are living in has never reference Postman’s amusing your self to death

    • In a roundabout way we can look to Postman. Perhaps in the last ten years we have been so busy living in illusion and amusing ourselves to death, we forgot that there is this thing called the “real world” that is no joke. Hope you are well Kandi!

  2. Ironically, the same day I read your post, I get invited to a zoom birthday party. I downloaded the app — and it annoys me how many “permissions” you have to allow an app in order for it to work. Does it really need access to my pictures, or my contact list?? I think not, so I plan to delete it after the party. Guess I’m old and paranoid in this digital age. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing considering all the crazy hacking that goes on. Not that I have anything to hide, but it’s ‘my’ stuff. Hope you and yours are well and staying hunkered down, we’ve got weeks more of this. I’m not looking forward to being moved closer to the front lines at work, but we all do what we have to. Today, I’m sewing more masks. Make sure you wear a mask if you have to go out!

    • Can I pay you for a mask? I don’t have one. Thank you for the words Bahbah! A Zoom bday party? I want to try a zoom cocktail party! I have next to nothing to hide…hack away.

  3. Hey professor Jimmy
    Well done! I never used Zoom before, but right now I’m using it for educational purposes. So, after reading your post about zoom, I decided to delete it after finishing my classes this semester.

  4. Great!!! I am also glad for Zoom, it has allowed me to finish assignments in my communications class. Also, it has allowed me to connect with friends. We haven’t been hacked yet, but like you said if it happens I hope it is entertaining.

  5. As the saying goes, kids will be kids. The problem is some people don’t grow out of their childish tendencies. Some people, hack for as you mentioned usually money. On the other hand, there are those people who only know how to deal with their problems or hardships at the expense of others, these are the same people who never grew up. As time moves on there will always be people like this. I agree that it does seem more of an episode from Black Mirror. I am sure if that show was older than it is now there would be an episode of our current situation. Everyday people that may seem nice on the outside, turn into the scum of the earth anonymously online. Hurting people for reasons only they can justify. To make themselves feel better or for some financial gain. Black Mirror is about how future technology goes wrong and exposes the flaws in them. In this case, society beat them to it. For us it already is reality and I don’t think there would be an easy answer to how we could even fight people like that. Hopefully, Zoom can figure out some way to prevent hackers like this. At least make it much harder for most hackers. Only time will tell though, be safe everyone!

  6. Hi Professor,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I think that Zoom bombing is a waste of time, but of course I have better things to do than try to figure out how to mess with people on Zoom. I have experienced Zoom bombing though! One of my classes did not have a password and one of the students shared the link with their friends, so a random guy came in and started shotgunning a beer. I was like….okay? Purely just to disrupt the class. It’s annoying because I pay for myself to be there, so I find it disrespectful when people do that kind of stuff. The professor was trying to figure out if they were a student or not, but kicked him out of the meeting and ended the class. I think that it’s honestly dumb, but I am also glad Zoom now has passwords and waiting rooms so none of that happens as much. I’m glad they upgraded their security measures for users.

    Best,
    Joshua Alban
    (COMMST 174)

  7. Thanfully we have zoom, I was allowed to communicate with my fellow peers, do my assignemnts, and be able to ask frequent questions with my professors, and even be able to do meetings which benefit my future.

  8. Now that is an interesting view of “Zoom bombing”. A 13-year-old’s obsession to create havoc using more recent technology. However, even in adults, does it require financial gain to want to still create some havoc. Doesn’t it give some misguided sense of power and control when someone does it. Wouldn’t that be something an adult would even want, not just for financial gain?

    Again, a most interesting view on the topic.

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