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FBI investigating racist 'Zoom bombing' during St. Bonaventure University Zoom conversation

Posted at 12:33 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 12:33:25-04

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. (WKBW) — St. Bonaventure University says the FBI is investigating the racist "Zoom bombing" that occurred during a St. Bonaventure Zoom conversation on June 5.

The school says its Office of Technology Services completed its investigation and turned its findings over to the Jamestown office of the FBI for further investigation.

"More than one user hacked into the Zoom session just after 1 p.m. Friday and uttered racial epithets and drew swastikas and other offensive images on the PowerPoint presentation. They were quickly removed from the session, which continued without further incident," officials said in a release.

School officials were able to track down three IP addresses of the hackers and Zoom was able to provide a hacker’s email address that the school says is linked to notorious phishing scams.

“Not surprisingly, Brian Kellogg discovered that the offenders had a history of botnet activity and their IP addresses were linked to servers as far away as Germany, India and Macedonia,” said Dr. Michael Hoffman, SBU’s associate provost and chief information officer. Kellogg is SBU’s director of Technology Infrastructure and Security.

“As you can imagine,” Hoffman said, “tracking down hackers who know how to obfuscate their identities by utilizing botnets is extremely difficult.”

The school described botnets as "a collection of internet-connected devices infected by malware that allows hackers to control them." Hoffman said the use of botnets makes it highly unlikely members of the university community were behind the attack.

The school says the Zoom links were only distributed via email and were not posted on any of the university’s social media platforms or website. Officials say it's possible someone with good intentions was trying to promote the event and posted the link on social media.