Hacked Zoom call prompts investigation, increased security

Hacked+Zoom+call+prompts+investigation%2C+increased+security

Amanda Cassel, Managing Editor

A student-organized Zoom call, intended as a bonding activity for the Class of 2021, was hacked on April 17, triggering a letter to junior families from the high school administration and prompting increased security for similar future activities.

The event had about 20 participants when the call was accessed by someone who displayed an explicit image. According to Junior Class Vice President Eliza Doss, as soon as the hacking began, Student Council organizers tried to end the call as quickly as possible.

“It’s so unexpected and it happened so quickly that we were all just super overwhelmed,” Eliza said.

A few hours later after the event, Student Council released a message on Schoology, apologizing for the incident and rescheduling the event. The event occurred on a more secure Zoom call April 19.  

Title IX Coordinator Betsy Noel said, after some investigation, the administration and Information Services believe the hack was by someone outside the Lab community. Moving forward, student-hosted events will have increased security for both the actual meetings and the meeting information, Ms. Noel said. 

Everyone will respond really differently to something like this. Some people may try to make jokes to get through it, some may be really really traumatized and some people may not appreciate initially what’s happened.”

— Betsy Noel, Title IX Coordinator

“We had already been mindful of events led by faculty and staff, in terms of making sure they adhere to the university’s safety steps to adhere to this,” Ms. Noel said. “Talking to the students helped us know why they didn’t use those protections and how we will make protections more accessible and usable for students.”

Following an event like this, Ms. Noel said it is important to recognize that people will have many different ways they react in the moment. She also suggested that some students may not feel greatly impacted by the incident at the moment but need support later on. Ms. Noel stressed resources are always available if students need them later.

“Everyone will respond really differently to something like this. Some people may try to make jokes to get through it, some may be really really traumatized and some people may not appreciate initially what’s happened,” Ms. Noel said. “Our responsibility is to meet every student where they’re at and help them process and get to the right resources.”

Hours after the incident, Ms. Noel, Principal Paul Beekmeyer and Dean of Students Ana Campos sent an email home to families explaining the incident and encouraged students to reach out to any of them or their counselors if they need. The incident was also reported to the police and the FBI.

“It’s an awful thing that happened, and it certainly wasn’t the student’s fault for what happened,” Ms. Noel said. “Helping students understand how to protect themselves is the key.”