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Devon 'Zoom-bombing' sex attack

60 children in online fitness class affected

Police have issued a cyber security warning after a ‘Zoom-bombing’ hacker subjected around 60 youngsters taking part in a Devon online fitness class to footage of child sex abuse.

The session was being staged on the conferencing app by a Plymouth sports club on Tuesday morning when someone gained unauthorised access. Extremely distressing video was streamed by the offender to its horrified organisers and participants.

Detectives believe the culprit was able to do so after the group’s login details for Zoom were shared on open internet forums. Officers are now working with Plymouth City Council’s social care team to identify any other children who may have been affected.

Detective Inspector Lesley Bulley, of the Plymouth public protection unit, said: “We are working closely with Plymouth Safeguarding Children’s Partnership and I request that, if you have been affected by this, then you come forward and let us know who you are so we can provide the necessary advice and support.”

Devon and Cornwall Police has issued advice over online video conferencing – with four steps for people to keep themselves safe and secure.

They include only downloading apps from trusted sources such as the Apple App Store and Google Play, and making sure account passwords are unique and complex. Users are also urged to never make calls public and to keep all of their devices and software up to date. Full advice is available here: https://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/video-conferencing

Social media should never be used to share conference links or passwords, participants should be verified before being allowed to join a meeting, and the ability for anyone to join before the host should be disabled. The host should be the only person able to share material and the meeting should be locked to prevent unauthorised access.

Cyber protect officer Grahame Mace added: “Keeping in touch with our friends and family is vital during this period of lockdown. But please ensure when setting up video conferencing sessions that you follow the guidelines on keeping your sessions private. First and foremost understand what security settings you have implemented and are available for your software, don’t leave yourself or others vulnerable, lock it down and keep the criminals out.”

Anyone affected by the Plymouth incident, or who has information, is urged to email 101@dc.police.uk or call 101 quoting crime reference CR/035950/20. Support and advice is available from the Plymouth Children’s Services Gateway Team on 01752 668000.

Any adult concerned about the welfare of a child or young person can call the NSPCC helpline for free and confidential advice on 0808 8005000 or visit nspcc.org.uk. Children can contact Childline for free on 0800 1111 or visit childline.org.uk and speak to a counsellor about a worry or concern they may have 365-days-a-year.

Further guidance on video conferencing from the National Cyber Security Centre can be found here:  https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/video-conferencing-services-using-them-securely Devon and Cornwall Police’s Cyber Protect team can be followed on Twitter at @DC_CyberProtect.

Any cyber-related enquires can be emailed to cyberprotect@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk.

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