Parliament’s virtual meeting suffers porn 'hack'

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A virtual meeting of the National Assembly Programming Committee (NACP) was hacked on Thursday morning, leaving MPs and journalists shocked by the porn images displayed on their screens.

This comes as national and provincial Parliaments have had to adopt virtual meeting platforms for their way of doing business, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to impact millions.

According to reports, the meeting had barely started when “graphic pornographic images” appeared on the screens, with racial slurs also being hurled at National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise, who was chairing the virtual meeting.

An Eyewitness News report notes the hacker also urged Modise to “bare her breasts”.

While most of Parliament’s virtual meetings have been conducted on Microsoft’s video-conferencing platform, Microsoft Teams, this morning’s meeting was on Zoom.

Making matters worse is that the details of the Zoom meeting, allowing anyone to join, were posted on Parliament’s Twitter page.

Some have tweeted the Parliament social media account, saying the meeting wasn’t hacked - instead people were allowed to join.

@samanthaperry tweeted: “If you're looking for the real culprit this morning - Zoom wasn't hacked - the details were publicly shared.”

@skeenzdev added: “You share the zoom link with the password and then claim to be hacked. Then you wonder why everyday more and more people lose faith in govt and it’s capabilities to run an entire country.”

@uncle_JBZ’s tweet reads: “Publishing meeting details on a public forum like this will lead to unscrupulous people joining your meetings and please don’t label it as a “hack” when it happens because you’ve given the public keys to enter your house. There are more secure ways of doing this #BeSafe.”

Despite its popularity, Zoom has received widespread criticism amid security and safety concerns, with a number of governments and firms banning employees from using the video conferencing platform.

According to an SABC report, Modise is one of the presiding officers that have expressed reservations about using Zoom as a platform for holding meetings due to security risks.

The NACP meeting was later moved to the Microsoft Teams, with no further challenges reported, so far.

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