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MOE lifts suspension on Zoom for home-based learning, files police reports over security breaches

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Education (MOE) has lifted a suspension on the popular video-conferencing tool Zoom, just days after it temporarily stopped its use for home-based learning.

MOE lifts suspension on Zoom for home-based learning, files police reports over security breaches

The Ministry of Education said it would allow teachers to progressively resume the use of video-conferencing tool Zoom, with controls in place.

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Education (MOE) has lifted a suspension on the popular video-conferencing tool Zoom, just days after it temporarily stopped its use for home-based learning. 

It has also filed police reports over two security breaches on the platform last week, it said in a statement on Monday (April 13). 

Last Thursday, MOE suspended the use of Zoom for home-based learning after it was made aware of two security breaches. 

In a Facebook post last week, the mother of a student claimed that hackers had hijacked her daughter’s Zoom stream and showed pornographic content, before asking the girls in the class of 39 students to expose their chests. She said that other schools may have encountered similar incidents.

Schools shut last Wednesday and students have to attend online lessons from home until May 4, as part of tighter safe-distancing measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Giving an update on the security breaches on Monday, Mr Aaron Loh, MOE’s divisional director for educational technology, said that the ministry took the incidents very seriously and have made police reports.

After reviewing and beefing up security protocols, MOE will allow teachers to progressively resume the use of Zoom with controls in place, he said. 

"We understand that with full home-based learning, video-conferencing platforms have become important tools for teachers to engage students and bridge the gap between classroom and home-learning experiences,” Mr Loh added. 

He outlined three “layers of defence” that MOE has put in place for the use of the video-conferencing platform. 

First, it has worked with Zoom to have security settings consolidated in a "security button" to make it easier for users to activate the settings. The ministry is familiarising teachers with the new feature, he said. 

It is also centrally managing teachers’ default security settings on Zoom to further secure the platform across all school users in a consistent manner. 

Second, the ministry will centrally restrict the features of Zoom to avoid abuse or misuse. These include disabling screen annotation and screen sharing as well as the use of the whiteboard feature. 

“As security concerns are addressed and users become more familiar with the security protocols, we will progressively enable these features again,” Mr Loh said. 

Lastly, teachers who have familiarised themselves with the required security measures and are ready to follow the enhanced security settings must submit an acknowledgment of compliance before they can conduct “live” lessons on Zoom.

“MOE will continue to work with schools and parents to ensure a safe learning environment for our students,” Mr Loh said. 

Responding to TODAY’s queries, Zoom said in a statement on Tuesday that it was “deeply upset” to learn of the two breaches and “strongly condemns such behaviour”.

The firm said quick steps were taken to deal with MOE’s concerns when use of the software was suspended last Thursday following the incidents.

“Zoom has worked together with MOE, so that they can manage the service and provide a seamless meeting management experience for educators."

Related topics

Zoom video conferencing MOE home-based learning Covid-19 coronavirus

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