As thousands of people adjust to working from home amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, video chatting has surged to the forefront of necessary tools. This unexpected new development has driven many to try Zoom, an enterprise video conferencing platform with real-time messaging and content sharing.
Unfortunately, Zoom's infrastructure wasn't prepared for the surge of users that have joined since the pandemic started, and the convenience of the platform comes with a security cost. "Zoombombing" is the latest trend for online hackers, who will find their way into an active meeting and disrupt it by displaying pornographic images, writing racial slurs, or any number of other disruptive activities.
Zoom has become a popular choice for many teachers who have had to suddenly convert their learning structure to online learning. With Zoom, they can see and interact with their entire class while they instruct. As the reports of security issues continue to mount and accounts of hackers disrupting meetings become more disturbing, New York City has taken the measure of banning the app from school virtual classrooms. Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city was "not going to put our students' privacy and our students' data at risk. It's just as simple as that."
The city's Department of Education partnered with the NYC Cyber Command to make the decision and are encouraging schools to defer to Microsoft Teams and Google for remote learning instead. The Department of Education says that they have been training teachers on the use of Teams for several weeks.
Eric Yuan, Zoom's founder, has said that he would freeze all new product development until the privacy issue is corrected. The company enacted a "waiting room" feature and additional password protocols for all basic and free accounts, including those used by classrooms. Only time will tell whether these additional features will be able to put Zoom back in users' good graces.