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Safe usage of Zoom

Is it safe to use Zoom online conferences? The answer is that regular usage of Zoom is safe and secure. It is an excellent tool for teaching sessions and meetings.

Illustration: Colourbox

It is safe to use Zoom for lectures and meetings. Uninett, the supplier of Zoom to UiA, makes use of private software, instead of the open software that at present is under criticism for their lack of safety (Illustration: Colourbox)

Meanwhile, there is a general rule that states that sensitive information does not belong in an open video conference.  UiA has specific rules for the secure sending of data.

In the media, questions have been raised as to how secure Zoom is – among others in this NRK-article on video conferences from 2 April(only in Norwegian).  These doubts are mainly based on American conditions, which are unlike the specific programmes UiA and other institutions in the university and university college sector uses. The programmes we use are supplied by Uninett.

Online newspaper digi.no investigated

"The issues with sensitive personal information linked to Zoom have made many people question whether they should use the service. The issue is however principally linked to the openly accessible service which the American company Zoom Video Communications offers to all.  There are also private or hybrid versions of Zoom where the entire or parts of the service runs via the client's servers. The Zoom-service Uninett offers to universities and university colleges is one of these", writes digi.no. Read the entire article (only in Norwegian): Uninett runs Zoom from Scandinavian servers Do not send user data to USA, published 3 April

The IT-department of UiA worked with Zoom and its potential safety issues. They refer to Uninett's topic site on Zoom (only in Norwegian), which continuously updates any information related to Zoom. They also recommend that all make sure to regularly update their Zoom programme version. Uninett supplies Zoom to the entire university and university colleges sector, including UiA.

UiA uses a secured system

One of the main differences between UiA's usage of Zoom and the questionable Zoom programmes is that UiA runs with a controlled system. In contrast, the criticised Zoom programmes are open to all.   In addition to this, the Zoom programme we use at the university must pass through all security data communication systems of Uninett and UiA.

You can find answers on many questions at  Uninetts zoom-facts on GDPR and the protection of sensitive data (only in Norwegian). UiA collaborates with the University of Oslo on the use of Zoom, even if the two institutions do not use entirely identical programmes. Still, most is similar and you can find answers on most answers also here: UiO answers questions on the safety of Zoom

Again, it is crucial to remember that Zoom is not a suitable medium for the exchange of sensitive information, such as research data containing sensitive personal data. In those cases, other more secure rules must still be followed, following the usual safety routines at UiA. However, for ordinary meetings and teaching sessions, Zoom is a perfectly suitable and excellent platform.