Zoom-bombing disrupts Nepal Toursim board video conference

While Tourism Minister Bhattarai was speaking, around a minute-long video popped up on the screen of conference attendees

Kathmandu, June 22

A video conference organised by Nepal Tourism Board today to unveil COVID-19 prevention protocol got disrupted by Zoom-bombing.

In order to launch ‘Operational guideline with health protocol for tourism sector’ today, NTB had organised the video conference via Zoom app where Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai was the chief guest.

After launching the protocol, when Tourism Minister Bhattarai was addressing the event, a porn video popped up on the screen.

The minister was speaking about tourism entrepreneurs and workers who have been affected by the coronavirus when around a minute-long video popped up on the screen of conference attendees. Soon after that, the programme host from NTB ended the session.

The session was attended by more than 200 participants, including NTB CEO Dhananjay Regmi, NTB Senior Director Nandini Lahe Thapa, tourism entrepreneur Karna Shakya and Tourism Secretary Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, among others.

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has formed a committee to investigate the rather embarrassing incident in coordination with NTB.

Issuing a statement after the conference, NTB stated that investigation was on and needful action would be taken after identifying the spammer.

As the name suggests, Zoom-bombing is a cyberattack on video call, where an individual or a group of people enter it without the permission of the host. Not only is this interruption disruptive and frustrating, some crashers have used Zoom-bombing to share offensive or explicit images and hate speech.

Even prior to this, many people have faced Zoom-bombings during their webinars.

As the country is in the process of easing the lockdown, many offices, schools and colleges are conducting online meetings and classes.

And with the increasing use of online platforms for communication, online hacking has also increased. Information technology experts have been saying that caution should be observed while organising such webinars.

The protocol launched today was prepared by NTB in coordination with MoCTCA and the private sector based on the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Population and World Health Organisation. The objective of the protocol is to make the tourism sector safe and reliable during this pandemic.

The guidelines cover information for different tourism sectors, such as hotels, restaurants and tourism offices and how each of these shall follow safety, hygiene and sanitation measures to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

NTB stated that the guidelines were the operational modality for a smooth transition to reopen the tourism industry post-lockdown.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 23, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.