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IT-DISCUSS  April 2020

IT-DISCUSS April 2020

Subject:

Re: Zoom unsafe?

From:

Lynda Howell <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Technology Discussion at UVM <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 9 Apr 2020 16:28:38 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (93 lines)

Another useful feature from Zoom that doesn't appear to be available to us in Teams is telephone access.  Is that something that we can get enabled?

Also, I understand that the College of Medicine (and CNHS?) has special "safe" Zoom access.  How do we know which type a given meeting is?

Lynda.
________________________________________
From: Technology Discussion at UVM <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Michael Fickes <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, April 9, 2020 10:30 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Zoom unsafe?

Hi Geoff,

This is incredibly informative and should be helpful in my messaging to staff about Zoom. As a distributed IT staff member, I always appreciate seeing some of the thought process that goes into decisions made by ETS.

The one requested feature of Zoom that I didn’t see you address is hosting “Live Events” where an audience can join and view the meeting but not participate. While I know Teams has this feature, it seems as though it isn’t available to us. Is that something we don’t have a contract for? Is there a way to get access to this?

Thanks,

Michael Fickes
Data & Application Support Specialist

Career Center
Division of Student Affairs | The University of Vermont
590 Main Street | Davis Center 204
Burlington, VT 05405
(802) 656-3450

UVM is subject to the Vermont Public Records Act and communications to and from this email address, including attachments, are subject to disclosure unless exempted under the Act or otherwise applicable law.

From: Technology Discussion at UVM <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Geoffrey Duke <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Technology Discussion at UVM <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 4:55 PM
To: "[log in to unmask]" <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Zoom unsafe?

Hi, folks,

People are doing their best in difficult circumstances to “go virtual,” and have been using the tools they have, the tools they know, the tools that are popular. This is understandable. And one very popular tool is Zoom.

Words from a retired colleague’s dad are ringing in my ears: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Nevertheless, I think it’s worth sharing some reasons why Zoom generally should not be used for university business.


  *   Zoom has lied about both the strength of the encryption it uses for meetings as well as how much of the network communications are actually encrypted.
  *   Zoom appears to own three companies in China, offshoring its development labor force, reducing costs and boosting profit.
  *   Zoom’s encryption keys often are routed through servers in China, raising significant concerns about interception of encryption keys, surveillance and content capture.
  *   Zoom has been mishandling customer data in violation of existing privacy law.
  *   Zoom uses malware-like behavior to install itself on Mac OS.

Microsoft Teams isn’t perfect; all software has bugs and limitations. But Teams does address most use cases at the university. And UVM has an enterprise agreement with Microsoft that describes rules for the handling of university data hosted in Microsoft’s services. This agreement includes stipulations that the data will be housed in Microsoft’s data centers in the North America region, for example, and we have legal recourse if the terms are violated.

I have also found that there are misconceptions about Teams’ capabilities that may lead people to seek an alternate solution.

Teams doesn’t support meeting with non-UVM people

  *   You can add any email address to a Teams meeting, not just @uvm.edu addresses.
  *   You can even add non-UVM people directly to Teams to allow for collaboration.

It’s hard to invite people with Teams; Zoom is easy

  *   You can add any email address to a meeting, and the recipients will have a link to the meeting.
  *   You can create a meeting within a Teams channel; this works well to keep the chat and meeting content with other related materials.
  *   You can grab the meeting link and share it any other way you like. But note that this means anyone with the link can join the meeting. Just like Zoom. For good or ill.

There are lots of great features of Microsoft Teams, especially for meetings.

  *   Optional meeting recording
  *   Live captioning
  *   Meeting chat, including quick polls with instant results
  *   Coming this month: Raise Hand<https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/roadmap?filters=Microsoft%20Teams&searchterms=raise>

And outside of meetings, there’s shared editing of documents, KanBan style project management with Planner, more complex forms and surveys, and lots more

Microsoft is actively working on additional features that people are asking for, including Showing all participants on the screen<https://microsoftteams.uservoice.com/forums/555103-public/suggestions/17010055-show-video-for-all-people-in-video-meeting>. The Teams client is updated every two weeks.

All of this within a platform that is administered and supported centrally by ETS.

I hope that we IT folks are strongly encouraging our constituents to use Microsoft Teams over other platforms whenever possible. If you have clients with specific concerns or use cases, or even just questions about how to do something in Teams, please let us know.

I trust that everyone is working with the best intentions at heart. But there are very significant risks associated with using unsupported services, and specific concerns about using Zoom. Since we have a supported, viable alternative, please at least have the conversation with your Zoom-loving users.

I hope you all are safe and well,

[1] https://citizenlab.ca/2020/04/move-fast-roll-your-own-crypto-a-quick-look-at-the-confidentiality-of-zoom-meetings/
[2] https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/1/21202584/zoom-security-privacy-issues-video-conferencing-software-coronavirus-demand-response

—Geoff

Geoffrey Duke  [He/Him]
802.656.1172 | Sr Systems Administrator | Enterprise Technology Services | University of Vermont

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