The internet is rife with online communities where users can go and share Zoom conference codes and request that pranksters connect and hurl insults, play pornographic material, or make death threats against other participants — in a practice called Zoom-bombing or a Zoom raid.
ZDNet began tracking the tactic since mid-March when the term was first coined following a TechCrunch article.
Ever since then, Zoom-bombing incidents have increased, as articles in major news outlets like the New York Times and the BBC have made the practice a favorite pastime for all the teenagers stuck in their homes during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantines.
From a niche prank that started on a derelict Discord channel, Zoom-bombing has now spread to enormous proportions — being so rampant these days that the FBI sent a nationwide alert last week, urging companies, schools, and universities to take steps to secure their Zoom channels.
But as Zoom-bombing became more popular, more pranksters wanted to join on the fun, and more users wanted their friends’ Zoom meetings disrupted.
And as the old saying goes; where there’s a demand, there’s always a supply. Over the course of the past week, the number of places on the public internet where you can request a zoom raid from a gang of bored teenagers has exploded.
There are now more than 30 public Discord channels.
At least three subreddits — two of which have been banned by the time we got down to write this article.
Multiple Twitter accounts where you can send Zoom conference codes and passwords to be broadcast to the entire internet.
And threads on at least three hacking forums where users are either sharing Zoom conference codes, or techniques to discover live meetings.
But without a doubt, the place where most Zoom raids are getting organized these days is on Discord, an online text and voice chat service.
While at the start of the week ZDNet found only two Discord channels for sharing Zoom conference IDs and organizing raids, today, there are more than 30.
One of them even had a hilarious disclaimer in its description, discouraging Zoom raids, only for the entire channel to be dedicated to sharing conference codes and Zoom-bombing requests.
Behind most of these requests are kids and teens, as PCMag discovered when it looked into the life of a Zoom raid, earlier this week. The publication noted how a Zoom raid started with a request made on a Discord channel and ended up as a recorded video shared on YouTube or TikTok.
PCMag found that kids and teenagers were behind many of these requests and pranks. In what ZDNet saw this week, we can say the same thing.
Most Zoom-bombing requests are still made by teens seeking to prank their colleagues or disrupt the class of a teacher they had a grudge against.
“Raid her now. She’s a crazy SJW LGBT feminist,” said a Discord user asking someone to disrupt a Spanish class that was live at the time.
But as Zoom raids and pranks have become more mainstream, conference organizers have also gotten better at securing their channels against outside interference.
This has, in turn, made it harder to get IDs for Zoom conferences pranksters can raid. Currently, some users are spending their time using scripts to parse social media for Zoom conference codes, which they later share on hacking forums, Reddit, and Discord.
That’s how and why we’re also seeing lots of Zoom raids that instead of targeting school or university classes, target training sessions open to the general public — such yoga classes, web design courses, bible studies, art classes, and others.
While not all Zoom raids are recorded, when they are, most of the recordings usually end up on YouTube. The video-sharing platform doesn’t appear to have an issue with hosting the videos, as long as they don’t include pornographic content, racist remarks, or death threats — content that’s against the site’s policy. Other than that, you can scream your lungs out during a Zoom raid, and YouTube will have no problem hosting it.