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NYC public schools told to stop using Zoom for distance learning

FBI warns of 'Zoom-bombing,' where teleconferences and online classrooms are hijacked
Posted at 2:17 PM, Apr 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-05 14:22:35-04

NEW YORK — The city Department of Education is urging schools to stop using Zoom video conferencing for remote learning “as soon as possible.”

The updated guidance comes amid an uptick in reports of "Zoom-bombing," when hackers break into private Zoom meetings.

Schools are being advised to use Microsoft Teams instead, and the DOE is providing training sessions to help teachers and staff make the transition.

“Providing a safe and secure remote learning experience for our students is essential, and upon further review of security concerns, schools should move away from using Zoom as soon as possible,” a DOE spokeswoman said in a statement Sunday. “There are many new components to remote learning, and we are making real-time decisions in the best interest of our staff and students. We will support staff and students in transitioning to different platforms such as Microsoft Teams that have the same capabilities with appropriate security measures in place.”

DOE leadership consulted with NYC Cyber Command, which advises on cybersecurity issues, before making the decision.

In response to growing security concerns and reports of hacking, Zoom Founder and CEO Eric Yuan apologized in a statement on Tuesday and outlined steps the company is taking to improve cybersecurity.

“We have strived to provide you with uninterrupted service and the same user-friendly experience that has made Zoom the video-conferencing platform of choice for enterprises around the world, while also ensuring platform safety, privacy, and security,” Yuan said in the statement. “However, we recognize that we have fallen short of the community’s – and our own – privacy and security expectations. For that, I am deeply sorry, and I want to share what we are doing about it.”

The company has offered its services for free to all schools that have had to close classrooms and move to distance learning amid the coronavirus outbreak. Since then, more than 90,000 schools across 20 countries have signed up, according to Yuan.

All public school students were given Microsoft accounts before the move to remote learning, according to the DOE. Students should be able to use their student account information to login.

The DOE will hold another Teams training session for teachers and staff on Monday.