Singapore allows schools to resume Zoom use for home-based learning


Singapore schools have been permitted to resume their use of Zoom to facilitate home-based learning, lifting an earlier ban that was put in place following security breaches involving the video conferencing tool. Teachers will be able to resume use with added controls in place and some features turned off. 

The Ministry of Education on Monday said it had put in place enhanced security protocols, including centrally managing default security settings on Zoom and consolidating security settings to a single button so these could be more easily activated.

All schools began home-based learning last week after stricter measures were enforced in the city-state as part of efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. The use of Zoom to carry out lessons, however, was suspended days later after two reported incidents of Zoom-bombing during which, in one such breach, male strangers hijacked a lesson to broadcast obscene images and asked female students to expose themselves. 

The incidents prompted the education ministry to ban schools from using the video conference platform whilst it looked into the breaches. The ministry’s divisional director of educational technology, Aaron Loh, told local media then that teachers had been instructed on the security protocols when using video conferencing tools, such as using secure logins and sharing meeting URLs only with students. 

Added security measures now had been put in place to allow teachers to “progressively” resume their use of Zoom to conduct their home-based lessons. Apart from consolidating security settings on the video conferencing tool into a single security button, teachers also would be restricted to certain features and would not be able to access others, such as screen annotation, screen-sharing, and whiteboard.

In addition, teachers would have to sign off and acknowledge they were aware of the security protocols and would adhere to the enhanced security settings, before they would be permitted to carry out live lessons on Zoom. 

The education ministry also would be centrally managing teachers’ default security settings on the platform. 

It added that features would be re-activated in future as security concerns were resolved and users were more familiar with the added security measures.

Taiwan’s government agencies last week also were told not to use Zoom over security and privacy concerns, following other organisations that also had banned the use of the platform including SpaceX, schools in New York City, and Google

On its part, Zoom acknowledged it had fallen short and halted development work on new features until security and privacy issues were resolved. 

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