Zoom court hearing hacking in Bexar County prompts close look at protocol

Judge says password protection essential

SAN ANTONIO – There is one basic element that applies to all judicial proceedings, local Administrative Judge Ron Rangel said Tuesday.

“There is a constitutional requirement that all judicial proceedings must be open to the public, " he said.

That means extra caution during Zoom proceedings.

“In a way, it’s a little scary because being open to the public, we want to make sure that we protect certain passwords and make sure that certain parts of our system are operating with certain levels of privacy,” Rangel said.

Bexar County court hearing streamed on Zoom hacked with porn

Last week, a Zoom hearing among seven civil district court judges was hacked, and profanity and obscene pictures were introduced into the hearing in what Rangel labeled “Zoom bombing.”

The presiding judge immediately shut down the hacker electronically, and access credentials were quickly changed.

The procedure mirrored protocol for dealing with hackers. Rangel said all judges must remain aware of the protocol.

Rangel said there is an active investigation into the incident.

“They’re going to investigate this case to its conclusion, and they will eventually file a case against whoever it was that Zoom bombed this situation,” he said.

A conviction could mean a $500 fine, six months in jail or both for the person responsible.

About the Authors

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.

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