GVPD ramps up efforts to find individuals responsible for Zoom hackings


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Adam Trombley, Staff Reporter

About a week has passed since Grand Valley State University’s student organizations were sent into a spiral after having their Zoom meetings and events crashed. A total of four organizations across both academic and student life were crashed during their meetings last week, including a Black Male Scholars meeting. However, since the Zoom “bombings,” the Grand Valley Police Department (GVPD) has been actively working with GVSU’s Information Technology (IT) group in order to find the individuals responsible and to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“Right now, we have not been given any indication to believe that it was associated with a student or connected to any member of the GVSU community,” said GVSU Capt. Jeffery Stoll. “It also appears that it was outside the state of Michigan.”

During the past few years, the police department has seen an increase in virtual and cybercrime that they didn’t necessarily see before. Many of these types of incidents revolve around cyberstalking and dangerous messages being sent, but when these incidents occur, GVPD has been able to work with GVSU IT in the past.

“They provide a certain level of information that specifically helps us identify people related to criminal activity,” Stoll said. “Part of the challenge with virtual or cybercrime makes you review and go over a lot of data such as IP addresses, emails, code and things like that. And so, while that information is valuable, it does take a while to process and digest.”

Because Zoom links can be made public for anyone to view or enter, it is believed that that is how the groups gained access to the meetings and events held by GVSU. Since these bombings, however, GVSU has set new safety guidelines for when students and staff use Zoom. These changes include having a passcode in order to enter the room as well as having a separate waiting room for members not apart of the GVSU community, as outlined in President Philomena Mantella’s email to the community following the events.

Currently, the investigation is still ongoing, so there has not been any formal charges or actions brought on to the perpetrators of the Zoom meeting “bombings.” Stoll says the department will take proper action once all the details are finalized.

“(We know) what actions were done during the course of the Zoom bombing,” Stoll said. “(We know) what was said, what was shared, what was shown on the video — those things, depending on what we find in there, will answer that question (of what) criminal actions we can identify and connect with that intrusion.”

Stoll added that investigators are unaware of the reasoning behind the ‘bombings”, but he would eventually like to get the answer if he can.

The investigation is still ongoing, but the department believes that all four of the Zoom meetings that were crashed are all connected to the same group of people. GVPD is moving forward with identifying the person most responsible for the “bombings.” They are still looking for others involved, but Stoll believes they are heading in the right direction of getting the incidents solved.