Upper Primary, Secondary & JC Level – Bukit Panjang

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Zoom Security Concerns

Update 13 April 2020: MOE has resumed the use of Zoom with centralized privacy settings.

Due to the Covid-19 lock-down measures, all our students have to stay at home due to school closures. As Zoom is a popular tool that is used to conduct home-based lessons, many students are already familiar with it. This is the primary reason why some of our lessons are conducted on Zoom as well. However, there have been a slew of security accusations made against the company recently.

The question is, should we be concerned? Let’s consider the key issues.

1) Zoombombing – This happens when uninvited attendees join the meeting and share undesirable content – screenshots, vulgarities, etc.

This happens for several reasons.

a) Meeting IDs are easy to guess as they are included in the invitation URLs as numbers. This has been rectified in a couple of ways.

As of writing, URLs are now encrypted. Also, the meeting ID has been removed from the title bar. We also set unique meeting IDs for every lesson.

b) No passwords are set for joining the meetings. This means anyone can just join the meeting if they guess the meeting ID.

We set passwords for every Zoom lesson that we conduct.

c) Screen sharing is enabled. This is a setting that allows attendees to share their screen information.

We disable this setting for security reasons.

d) Waiting room is disabled. This is a setting that allows attendees to join the meeting immediately.

We disable this setting to make sure that we manually admit attendees.

2) Encryption – The technology does not allow third parties to access meeting content. However, technically, Zoom can still access the content.

We do not see this as a concern since our meetings do not involve any sharing of private information and are just English lessons. No spy stuff here 🙂

3) Data sharing – Data is sent to Facebook without the user’s knowledge.

This is only relevant to users who use Facebook to login to Zoom. Zoom has since updated the code.

Our stand is that most websites, including the largest players online, do track user data for advertising purposes. For our purposes, it is not a major concern.

4) Attention tracking – Some users complain about the host being able to track if the user has clicked away from the application for more than 30 seconds.

This feature has been removed by Zoom.

5) MOE suspended Zoom – MOE has suspended the use of Zoom as of writing this article (11 April 2020) as they need more time to investigate the incidents and set privacy policies.

Therefore, we still deem Zoom safe to use for now as long as the proper security settings are adopted.

The alternative, of course, is to use something else like Skype. Parents who are concerned may choose to have the lessons conducted on Skype.