Hackers harass children in online classrooms

By Phan Duong   April 10, 2020 | 06:17 pm PT
Hackers harass children in online classrooms
A girl studying online at her home in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Duong.
Online lessons for school children have been hacked to send inappropriate messages, and the national child protection hotline has sounded a caution to parents.

In one such message, a girl student was invited to take part in a beauty contest and send four nude pictures taken from different angles to "check for scars" and to suggest what kind of clothes she should wear.

The sender said the contest was for girls aged 12-15.

Nguyen Cong Hieu, deputy director of the hotline (111)’s consulting and media services center, said it is possible that the people behind the messages would use the photos to blackmail the sender.

The hotline has also been receiving complaints from parents about their children being told to visit adult websites and social media groups.

Some have lured students to join rings trading illegal products.

There have been cases of hackers breaking into online classes and using inappropriate language and sabotaging the lessons.

Hieu said only schools that had developed their own online tools are able to protect their system and students. Almost all schools that only adopted the online teaching model after the pandemic began and are using free platforms are under threat, he said.

Messages that students left for strangers on Zoom, a conferencing app, have been found after such incidents.

111, which receives an average of 13,000 calls a month, is now receiving a number of calls daily about harassment and disturbance in online classrooms.

The government has yet to decide when schools will resume after almost three months of closure.

The nation is still amid a 15-day social distancing campaign, a partial lockdown, which will end on April 15.

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