Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Friday confirmed that one of the webinars on "Reporting from Red Zones" was disrupted by hackers. In a series of tweets, the Editors Guild of India has talked about how multiple intrusions forced the webinar to be called off within 10 minutes. The EGI said that the speakers in the webinar included Malini Subramaniam, PV Kondal Rao, Milind Umare, Tameshwar Sinha, Faisal Anurag and Purnima Tripathi who have worked at the "forefront of chronicling the conflict and the human rights abuses over the last few decades." The webinar was scheduled for 3PM on Zoom and the topic of discussion was reporting experiences from Naxal areas, when the cyber attack took place.
"EGI zoom webinar on 'Reporting from Red Zones' subjected to relentless disruption by cyber attackers, who clearly did not want the speakers' voices to be heard. Multiple encroachers posted obscene messages and videos. Webinar called off within 10 minutes," the EGI on Twitter wrote. The EGI noted that within 5 minutes of the zoom meeting, spammers started posting frivolous song videos that were followed up with pornographic content. Multiple spammers joined the meeting in order to disrupt the conversation.
"Within a few minutes of the webinar starting, some of the participants started posting frivolous songvideos. The meting host triesd shutting downth window of each such guest, but the numbr of such disruptors kept on increasing. Soon, som of them startd posting obscene messages on group chat as well as shard screenswith pornographic content and abusive language. Eventually, the meeting had to be eneded without even one of the guest speakers getting a chance to speak," the EGI headed by Seema Mustafa in a press statement said.
"The guild is shocked and disturbed by this unprecedented attack by those who clearly did not want the speakers' voices to be heard. Naxal infested areas have been subjected to some of the most horrifying and gruesome instances of state excesses. The webinar speakers have been at the forefront of chronicling the conflict and the human rights abuses over the last few decades. The Guild sees this as a blatant attack on freedom of speech and demands that the Cyber Crime Cell investigates this attack on free speech and book the guilty," the EGI added.
According to EGI's tweets, the meeting took place on Zoom and was subject to what many refer as "zoombombing." Zoom has in fact taken measures to curb these kind of attacks online, like limiting users who can join meetings by using passwords and by introducing waiting rooms. It also introduced two-factor authentication last year for better security of users. Zoom notes that communication between all meeting participants in a given meeting is encrypted using cryptographic keys known only to the devices of those participants. The end-to-end encryption ensures that no third party -- including Zoom -- has access to the meeting's private keys.
Zoom, in one of its guides warns that users should not use Personal Meeting ID for Public Meetings. While personal meeting IDs is the default meeting that launches when users start a meeting, it does not change unless users change it themselves, which makes it very useful if people need a way to reach them. "But for public meetings, you should always schedule new meetings with randomly generated meeting IDs. That way, only invited attendees will know how to join your meeting. You can also turn off your PMI when starting an instant meeting in your profile settings," Zoom notes.