PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The FBI’s branch office in Pittsburgh wants to warn people about the dark side of Zoom, where criminals can hijack your meetings and display child sexual abuse material.

Nearly 200 active FBI investigations are underway nationwide and a handful just popped up in the Pittsburgh area.

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller talked with FBI Supervisory Special Agent Tim Wolford about what you should do if this happens to you or your business.

“There’s been about 195 cases nationwide, and we’ve seen four incidences of this that have occurred locally in our area,” said Supervisory Special Agent Wolford. “During several of these meetings, there were individuals who were participants in the meeting that weren’t specifically invited or supposed to be there and they shared their screens and essentially showed videos of child sexual abuse material to the rest of the participants in the meeting.”

Wolford said everyone in the meeting could now unwillingly possess child pornography.

“If you are a host or administrator of a Zoom meeting where this has happened, you need to make sure you reach out to us and notify us immediately. Don’t delete any content or logs off of your computer. It helps our investigation if we are able to collect that information,” said Wolford.

After reaching out to the FBI, follow these steps for any future meetings:

  • Require a password for every meeting and never post the password publicly on a website or on social media.
  • Only email the password to people invited to the meeting.
  • Adjust settings to only allow the meeting host to share his or her screen with the group.
  • Set up a “waiting room” and manually allow or deny people trying to enter the meeting.

“Participants log in to the waiting room and the host or administrator can see who is in that waiting room, and then grant access to the individual participants who are supposed to be there,” said Wolford.

If you’re a participant in one of these affected meetings, sometimes people are recording the happenings of the meeting.

If that happens, you’ll need to make sure the FBI removes this illegal material from your device.

Call 1-800-CALL-FBI or click here to submit a tip electronically.

Meghan Schiller