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NSHE offers security tips for virtual collaborations

The Nevada System of Higher Education has released a list of virtual collaboration tools security tips, hoping that people who are using virtual collaboration tools such as Zoom, Teams and GoToMeeting to share video, audio and screen content will protect themselves.

The NSHE noted that a nationwide trend of disrupting or even hijacking these meetings, something often called “Zoom-bombing” is emerging, and it recommended measures be taken to ensure those using these tools remain cyber aware to protect their content.

In a document intended for virtual meetings that are not subject to Nevada’s Open Meeting Law, the NSHE recommends using institution-provided services and devices as much as possible and requiring participants to enter an access code to join the meeting. Access codes should not be reused, and webcams should be covered when not in use. Do not record the meeting unless it is necessary, and know that others might be able to record the meeting.

Meetings should not be on any public calendars or posted on social media, the meeting link and access code should be distributed directly to the intended participants. Access codes should not be shared, and unused windows should be closed before sharing a screen to ensure no sensitive or confidential information is shared accidentally.

Meeting hosts should set an audible alert to be notified when an attendee joins, and meeting rosters should be used to see who has joined. Meetings should be locked once all participants have joined and confidential information will be discussed. For larger meetings, another person should undertake meeting management responsibilities.

Individual attendees should check their work space for any objects, documents or notes that other attendees should not see. Attendees who join by phone should be required to enter their audio PIN to give the organizer audio controls for each participant. If a user did not enter a PIN, right-click the person’s name and select “Send Audio PIN.”

Virtual collaboration tools all allow meeting organizers to set up security, and organizers should familiarize themselves with the various tools to ensure meetings are adequately protected.

The NSHE included an example of what can happen with its guidelines, noting that in late March a high school reported that while a teacher was conducting an online class using a virtual collaboration tool, and unidentified individual joined the virtual classroom and yelled potentially upsetting phrases and caused a general disruption. In other environments, the NSHE said, the consequences can be far worse.

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