Updaten (08. April) - Information from MIZ on the use of video conference services and Zoom

2020-04-08 In the last weeks many members of Leuphana have been working to provide efficient services and sustainable support structures for the most unrestricted implementation of online teaching under the current conditions. In addition to myStudy, we will be using Moodle, a video portal that will be launched shortly, and the video conferencing service Zoom for the implementation of teaching in the summer semester due to the discontinuation of classroom teaching. Against this background, we would like to provide you with the following information and explanations, especially regarding Zoom:

1. Under the current conditions, the MIZ has intensively examined and weighed up in the last few weeks what technical support is suitable for establishing alternatives to classroom teaching at Leuphana. In the short time available, the video conferencing services of DFNconf (Pexip and Adobe Connect) as well as the common video conferencing providers available on the market (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting and others) were evaluated. The short-term establishment of a local video conferencing infrastructure for the comprehensive support of online teaching on Leuphana's own servers was also examined.

As a result of this evaluation, we found that DFNconf's videoconferencing services (Pexip and Adobe Connect) used at Leuphana to date are unlikely to provide the performance required to enable videoconferencing on the scale required for regular teaching. In addition, DFN-Verein currently advises against the widespread use of its systems. Even the short-term installation of a local video conferencing infrastructure on Leuphana's own servers is not possible with the given technical and temporal resources at short notice.

According to MIZ's assessment, no other system apart from Zoom is currently able to offer comparably stable, reliable and high-quality video conferences with high numbers of participants in order to maintain teaching operations for up to 2,000 different courses and more than 9,000 students online. Due to its unrivalled performance compared to all other providers, the MIZ has therefore recommended the university management to use Zoom to support teaching and studies until further notice.

3. At the same time we know that ZOOM has been strongly criticised in the media in the last weeks due to various reports about data protection and security concerns, which have also led to insecurity among members of Leuphana. On the one hand, the possible transfer of personal data to other providers for advertising purposes has been criticized. On the other hand there are reports about security gaps through which unauthorized persons could gain access to a Zoom meeting and disturb the meeting (so-called Zoom-Bombing).

The security gaps and weaknesses that have become known in the past weeks have always been quickly remedied by Zoom. Furthermore, Zoom has announced that it will not develop any new features in the coming months, but will concentrate its energy on further securing the service. Irrespective of this, we have been examining the security and data protection problems relating to Zoom particularly intensively in recent days, together with the Legal Affairs Office, the Data Protection Commissioner and in close consultation with the Presidium.

4. As a result, the MIZ has configured the use of Zoom for all users of Leuphana in all respects so that the Zoom meetings at Leuphana take place with maximum security precautions. For example, a password is required for all meetings to prevent so-called zoom-bombing. The camera and microphone are also always deactivated for all meeting participants and must be switched on manually by the participants.

A detailed description of the ZOOM configuration at Leuphana can be found here.

In addition, we expressly ask you to observe the following instructions and conduct when using Zoom in order to avoid the unintentional use of tracking services (Google Analytics etc.) on the Zoom web pages:
a) Please do not download the Zoom software from the Zoom web pages, but from the Leuphana intranet at www.leuphana. de/intranet/zoom (VPN required).
b) Please use only the Zoom desktop application and not the Zoom website to start or join meetings.
c) Please do not invite participants to Zoom meetings via the invitation link generated by Zoom, but instead provide only the meeting ID and password. In the desktop application you can enter ID and password to start or join a meeting.
d) Please make sure you also use the possibility to create zoom meetings directly in myStudy or to get access to the meeting ID and the meeting password via myStudy in the course.

5) The data protection commissioner of the Leuphana University of Lüneburg has examined the Zoom service in detail and proposed a package of measures to counteract data protection risks and concerns. In addition to the publication of new data protection notices, this includes the central configuration of the service, special contractual agreements with Zoom, as well as concrete binding instructions to university members, which will be published separately again in the coming days. On the basis of these measures, the use of the service can be regarded as acceptable in view of the low remaining data protection risk.

Otherwise, the support team for digital teaching will be happy to answer any questions, comments and advice you may have.