WESTFIELD, NJ — Due to security concerns, local public schools are transferring off of the online videoconferencing platform Zoom, the district announced.

Superintendent Margaret Dolan said the district will discontinue its use of Zoom by next Monday as it transitions to the videoconferencing platform Webex. Teachers who have been using Google Hangouts/Meet will continue use of those platforms, Dolan said in an email to parents Sunday.

“Safeguarding the security and privacy of our students and staff is of paramount importance,” Dolan said. “Our technology team conducted an extensive review of Zoom and joined experts in the field of cyber safety and security in expressing a lack of confidence that the online platform can adequately address these concerns.”

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The most serious concerns, she said, include reports of encryption failures, stealing network log-in credentials and the highjackings of meetings, commonly called “Zoom-bombing.”

There have been no “Zoom-Bombing” incidents within the Westfield Public School District, Mary Ann McGann, the district’s communications coordinator, said on Monday. A guide for using Webex can be found here on the school district's website.

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On March 30, the FBI’s Boston Field Office had warned of “Zoom-bombing” incidents emerging nationwide.

 “The FBI has received multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language,” press release stated.

In the release, the FBI offered a variety of tips for securing Zoom meetings, including not making such meeting publicly accessible, requiring users enter a password and keeping screen-sharing set as “Host Only.” The FBI’s Newark field has also offered similar cyber-security warnings.

Messages left with Zoom were not immediately returned Monday afternoon. The company on its blog, however, has offered tips for keeping uninvited guests out of virtual meetings.

Zoom also has told the Associated Press that it recently updated the default screen-sharing settings for education users so that teachers are by default the only ones who can share content.

The company told The Associated Press it takes the security of meetings seriously and encourages users to report any incidents directly to Zoom.

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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