Singapore has suspended the use of video-conferencing app, Zoom after hackers hijacked home-based online classes and showed obscene images to students.

On Wednesday, schools in Singapore were closed as part of partial lockdown measures to control local transmissions of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As a result, some teachers are using video conferencing tools like Zoom for home-based learning. 

According to local media reports, one of the incidents saw hackers joining a virtual geography class with teenage girls and displaying offensive pictures on screens. They also lewd remarks to the students, who were just 13 years old. 

“These are very serious incidents,” Aaron Loh, divisional director of the educational technology division at the city-state’s Ministry of Education (MOE), said.  

“MOE is currently investigating both breaches and will lodge a police report if warranted. We are already working with Zoom to enhance its security settings and make these security measures clear and easy to follow,” he added.

“As a precautionary measure, our teachers will suspend their use of Zoom until these security issues are ironed out.”

Loh said that they would additionally advise teachers on security protocols such as need of secure log-ins and not sharing the meeting link other than the students in the class.

Zoom has been receiving backlash over safety and privacy concerns about its conferencing app, which has recently become hugely popular due to its increased usage by office employees and students at home amidst the coronavirus pandemic. 

Last week, Zoom applied stronger security measures such as enabling passwords and virtual waiting rooms for users. 

The company also announced a 90-day feature freeze to dedicate its resources to identify, address and fix the existing security issues within the service. During this period, Zoom would not be rolling out new features until the current feature set is fixed.

“We have been deeply upset by increasing reports of harassment on our platform and strongly condemn such behaviour,” a Zoom company spokesperson said. “We are listening to our community of users to help us evolve our approach and help our users guard against these attacks.”

Recently, Google had banned its employees from using the Zoom desktop app citing security vulnerabilities within the service. Similarly, Taiwan and Germany too have put restrictions on Zoom’s use. 

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