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School districts dropping 'Zoom' over security concerns

FBI warns of 'Zoom-bombing,' where teleconferences and online classrooms are hijacked
Posted at 3:52 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 20:14:41-04

One week after the FBI warned of "online classroom hijacking" during the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest school district in Arizona is rolling out its remote learning with a ban on Zoom. Students in Mesa Public Schools will be blocked from using it starting at 4 p.m. Thursday. They will be using the conferencing platform WebEx instead.

"All the endpoints have been pushed out," said Ken Colburn, the founder and CEO of Data Doctors. "The stuff that used to be controlled by professional IT people is now being controlled by individuals."

Across the country, teachers in New York City are now also banned from using Zoom. Two schools in Massachusetts recently reported their own disturbing incidents to the FBI's Boston Division. Students in Los Angeles, reporting pornographic images and racist rants infiltrating online instruction.

Zoom is aware of the security concerns and is already taking steps to better educate users on its safety features.

"The problem with technology that's made to be easy is that most people, once they get the thing to work, they just stop, they don't keep reading, they don't look at the settings," said Colburn.

With so many students and parents working remotely, Colburn says it never hurts to review the basics.

"A frank conversation with everyone in the household to keep their guard up, watch where you go on the internet, be very careful about what you download or install, and then ultimately, just make sure when you see if there's an update or a patch, you've got to get them installed," Colburn said.

Most school districts do have IT and device safety resources on the COVID-19 pages of their web sites.