GVPD investigating new Zoom “Bombing” incident


GVL Archives

Adam Trombley

It has been several months since Grand Valley State University has faced a Zoom “bombing” incident. With increased security measures it seemed like the calls were secure and safe to meet on. But earlier this week there was another Zoom attack that featured racist and obscene language toward the group’s meeting. Since the incident, the Grand Valley Police Department has started investigating the attack.

“We had another Zoom incident,” said GVPD Capt. Jeffrey Stoll. “There were very obscene and racist comments similar to the previous time and we’re trying to figure out exactly how that happened.” 

After the first span of Zoom “bombings”, GVSU had set new security measures involving the group meeting app. Things like waiting rooms, passcodes and automatic meeting IDs were set up in order to keep the risk of attacks from individuals outside of the University low. According to an email sent by Vice President and Chief Digital Officer Milos Topic, the meeting was not on GVSU’s domain and the links and passcodes to the meeting were posted publicly on a website. 

Stoll said they are trying to investigate in a similar way as they did for the previous incidents.

“Tracking down the people who were involved, who attended, trying to get an understanding of all of the things they saw at the time that it was intercepted and try to start working the case with that information,” said Stoll. 

The idea is to hopefully be able to match names to IP addresses so that they can try to connect the people that interfered with the meeting. The challenge is that because the meeting was not hosted on the University’s domain, it may take longer for them to get the information about the people involved because it is something that is outside of their traditional scope. 

Stoll said that when these meetings are held on GVSU’s domain, the University and IT department maintains more information because it is on their own platform. When the meetings are held on this domain, it is easier for IT to help the department with information like IP addresses. 

Although the reasoning for the attacks up to this point is still unknown, Stoll believes that much like the attacks earlier this semester, the people responsible were trying to get a reaction that would be funny to them.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that this is what they seek out in their free time,” Stoll said. “To try and incite this type of hateful rhetoric just so they feel that it is funny to them individually and to the group they’re with. It can be very harmful. But to them, they don’t view it as harmful, they view it generally as a joke and I think that that’s where there can be some problems.”

This is the first type of attack like this that GVSU has experienced since September of last semester. Besides this incident, the GVPD has not had any other issues or reports about these types of attacks after GVSU set their new Zoom safety guidelines. The GVSU community is urged to follow the online safety measures that have been set up so that these types of attacks don’t continue to take place.