Virtual court hearing for the Florida teenager, Graham Ivan Clark accused of being the ‘mastermind’ behind last month’s major Twitter hack has been suspended following interruption with pornography.
The hearing took place over video chat app Zoom, but had to be suspended after repeated interruptions.
The 17-year-old was asking for a lower bail amount, after pleading not guilty to the charges on Tuesday.
Although, the investigation was led by the FBI and involves federal crimes, Clark will be prosecuted locally because Florida law allows minors to be charged as adults in financial fraud cases, when appropriate.
During the court session, Zoom users – changing their names to mimic CNN and BBC News employees – joined the meeting uninvited.
Florida newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times reports that;
The interruptions grew so frequent, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Christopher Nash ended the Zoom hearing temporarily.
However, the interruptions resumed when the hearing did. Some attendees played music down the line. Another used Zoom’s screen-sharing feature to play pornography, which reporters said was the final straw that led to the suspension of the meeting.
Ryan Hughes, a reporter for WFLA News in Florida, said Judge Christopher Nash had remarked that “next time he will require a password.”
Zoom meetings without a password can be joined by anyone with the meeting’s ID number.
Cyber-security expert Brian Krebs wrote that the so-called ‘Zoombombing’ was predictable.
How the judge in charge of the proceeding didn’t think to enable settings that would prevent people from taking over the screen is beyond me. My guess is he didn’t know he could.
Krebs noted that it was fortunate the pornography clip was ‘fairly tame’ as such things go, adding; “Judges holding hearings over Zoom need to get a clue”.
After resuming the meeting at first, the judge decided not to lower the bail amount, which had been set at $750,000 (£570,000).
The teenager’s lawyers argued the amount was unreasonable, since he is accused of stealing just a fraction of that amount, the Tampa Bay Times said.
Authorities say that the hackers behind the attack received more than $100,000 in bitcoin through the illegal scheme which lasted for few hours.
The teenager is accused of 30 counts of fraud after the Twitter hack, which used the social media firm’s internal tools to access celebrity accounts for a Bitcoin scam.
Twitter said 130 accounts were targeted in the attack, while private account information from a much smaller number was also accessed.
A British 19-year-old from Bognor Regis, Mason Sheppard, was also charged by US officials in an indictment last month, as well as 22-year-old Nima Fazeli from Orlando.
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