Valerie Strauss writes here about a growing exodus from the Zoom platform, which benefits Microsoft’s Teams.

She writes:

Some school districts around the country have started to ban the use of Zoom for online learning from home during the coronavirus crisis because of growing concerns about security, and others are reassessing how and whether to use the teleconferencing platform.

Days after the FBI issued a warning to the public about the “hijacking” of online classrooms and teleconferences, the New York City Department of Education, which runs the largest school district in the country, said teachers should no longer use Zoom and should instead work through Microsoft Teams.

Other school districts, too, have banned Zoom or are trying to beef up security around its use. Clark County Public Schools in Nevada said in a statement that it had decided to “disable access to Zoom out of an abundance of caution due to instances of hacking that created unsafe environments for teachers and students,” but that it was looking at options to that might allow it to resume access.

Asked about the school districts that are banning its platform, Zoom said in a statement:

We are deeply upset to hear about the incidents involving this type of attack and we strongly condemn such behavior. Starting on March 20, we have been actively educating users on how they can protect their meetings and help prevent incidents of harassment through features like waiting rooms, passwords, muting controls and limiting screen sharing. We have also been offering trainings, tutorials, and webinars to help users understand their own account features and how to best use the platform. We are listening to our community of users to help us evolve our approach — for example, we recently changed the default settings for education users to enable waiting rooms by default and ensure teachers by default are the only ones who can share content in class. Finally, we encourage users to report any incidents of this kind directly to https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/requests/new so we can take appropriate action.”

The FBI issued a warning to the public earlier this week about the “hijacking” of online classrooms and teleconferences after it received reports of disturbances by people shouting racist and threatening language and displaying hate messages. It said saboteurs were hacking into online meetings in a phenomenon now called “Zoombombing,” because Zoom has become the most popular teleconferencing choice for K-12 schools and colleges and universities during the pandemic.

Concerns about online security have been rising as most of the nation has moved to online education, with school buildings closed to try to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus that has stopped public life around the world. Schools have rushed to put together online lessons and programs, sometimes without strict security filters. There have been numerous reports of intruders disrupting classes and school meetings, from elementary school to higher education.

For example, University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs reported an intrusion of a student government meeting by someone who displayed racist messages, swastikas, pornography and death threats.

W. Kent Fuchs

@PresidentFuchs
Just reported to me that this evening UF’s Student Government meeting was Zoom Bombed with racist messages, swastikas, pornography and death threats. I condemn these horrific messages of hate. I have asked UF IT and UF PD to investigate. COVID-19 and hate will be defeated.

Why would anyone engage in such unethical behavior?