Communications expert blames rookie mistakes for hacking

A virtual Parliamentary meeting to discusss the national assembly's upcoming programme has been hacked. The meeting was taking place via video conferencing app, Zoom. Porn images and videos appeared on the screen. Courtesy #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - A communications expert has blamed poor planning and rookie mistakes for the disruption of government and Parliament's Zoom meetings.

READ: Parliamentary virtual meeting hacked with porn images

On Thursday a parliamentary portfolio committee meeting was stopped when members of the public posted pornographic images and hurled insults at National Assembly Speaker, Thandi Modise.

The committee was caught off-guard and has condemned the disruption but experts believe it could have been easily avoided.

MPs like the ANC's Cedric Frolick are concerned about the use of Zoom and third parties joining meetings. 

Frolic said, "if the meetings are online or live streamed, there is absolutely no reason to allow third parties on the platform because the more people that are part of the meeting, the greater the security risk."

The EFF is questioning why the meetings can't be conducted on a different platform, because of Zoom's security risks.  

READ:  Parliament to resume with immediate effect

The EFF's Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi said, "we need to know how these platforms work because we need more information. And I remember the secretary of parliament saying that he did have a license for Team Microsoft that's why we were opting for it."

Government and parliament are persisting with the use of the app despite its shortcomings.  

Media and communications company World Wide Worx says a basic understanding of the app could have prevented the security breaches.  

Arthur Goldstuck from World Wide Worx said, "because it's so easy to use people easily leap into it without thinking through the cyber security issues around it. This points to the fact that there has to be an awareness before you engage with any platform online, of how to secure yourself and the participants in the meeting."

He says the decision to allow anyone to view meetings directly on Zoom, was poorly informed.  

Goldstuck said, "in the case of parliament ,we not only saw them ignoring the basic rules of Zoom security, but in fact issuing the invitation via Twitter, providing the password for the meeting on Twitter, the most abused social platform in the world. So it really was a recipe for disaster."

Parliament and government have since resolved to restrict access to their meetings, to prevent similar disruptions.

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