Add the Town of Canandaigua to the list of entities that have been ‘hacked’ during a virtual meeting since the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The Town Board held a virtual meeting on Monday, but it had to end prematurely after hackers posted pornographic material on it.
Around 130 people were in attendance.
“I am personally truly saddened and angered by the actions of those few who seek to destroy our open and free government and our right to free speech. I wish that I could make those disturbing images and ridiculous words disappear from your memories,” wrote Town Supervisor Catherine Menikotz in a statement.
The Ontario County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. To prevent this from happening again, the Town of Canandaigua is planning on taking additional steps to keep the meetings secure.
Below is the full-message posted to Facebook by Supervisor Menikotz:
“For those of you who were present at the Zoom meeting held on the evening of February 8, 2021, the experience left many of us angry, annoyed, embarrassed, saddened, and a whole host of other emotions. I am personally truly saddened and angered by the actions of those few who seek to destroy our open and free government and our right to free speech. I wish that I could make those disturbing images and ridiculous words disappear from your memories. Unfortunately, I am unable to do that. What we can and did do is report it to the police immediately for investigation and prosecution. My thanks to our Town Manager, Doug Finch, for shutting down the meeting and immediately contacting and working with Ontario County Sheriff Kevin Henderson to investigate these crimes. We are hopeful, based upon the information we were able to retain, to be able to locate and prosecute those responsible.
Additionally, what we can do is learn from the experience and work to prevent it from happening in the future. I, along with my fellow members on the Board, and our Town Manager are committed to keeping public access and communication as safe and harassment-free as possible for you (and us) while still preserving our Constitutional rights to free speech and our commitment open government. To that end, we have worked with the Zoom platform and our law enforcement community to find new or better ways to institute improved safeguards on our virtual platform. As you are all aware, criminals will always seek to find ways to beat those safeguards.
We are committed to continually learning and instituting safeguards to prevent and shut down their criminal actions and attempts to breach our safety efforts.
Consequently, from here on out, log in procedures for Zoom meetings will look a little different and require a few more steps the first time you log back in. You will be asked some identifying information and upon completion of your registration, you will have to go back to the meeting link and log on again. You will then be held in the virtual “lobby” until you are granted admission to enter. Once you enter you will see that you are automatically muted. You will not be able to unmute yourself until the moderator/host unmutes you. You can expect to hear more about the log-on procedures in the near future.
Please be patient. Give yourselves extra time to log on. The meetings will be recorded and be available at a later time. You may be aware that we met for a short period of time after the breach at our meeting to agree to re-schedule and talk about possible dates. No further board action was taken. Please keep an eye out for the new date which we expect will be within the week. If you ever have any questions about dates of meetings, or anything else, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or anyone else at Town Hall. You can also access all of this information on the Town Website.
I look forward to the opportunity to meet with you in the very near future to pick up the discussion where we left off. I am committed to making sure those rights we hold dear are not taken away from us. I refuse to be intimidated or silenced and I know so many of you feel the same. If anything, these actions further my resolve to work toward the safe and free exercise of speech and our right of assembly. On behalf of my fellow Town Board members, our Town Manager and everyone at Town Hall, thank you again for joining us, and for your input and commitment to this great community. I hope to see you at our next meeting and many beyond. My sincerest hope is that we can meet again in person very soon.”