Zoom for Government
What is Zoom for Government?
(Posted: May 27, 2020, 09:00:00 PM UTC)
Many agencies have been using Zoom for video conferencing since the office closures related to coronavirus began. Many distributed teams in the private sector were already avid users of the software – but concerns about security and privacy have left some government agencies hesitant.
Zoom offers a government-oriented version of its services, described thus: “Zoom’s secure video communications solution is easy to deploy, manage, and scale. With consistent and reliable high-quality video, even in low-bandwidth environments, government departments and agencies can reduce costs, improve efficiency, enhance internal collaboration, and extend citizen services.”
“Zoom for Government” is a paid tier of Zoom that is hosted in a separate cloud and allows a greater range of features and control – thus offering potentially better security through advanced settings. Some agencies (especially those with large-scale meeting needs) may decide this option makes Zoom an acceptable tool to meet security standards.
However, even the free version of Zoom can be configured to offer a high level of security – here is Zoom’s guide to help you do that. As with most things in government, the decision to Zoom or not to Zoom will be influenced by a variety of evolving factors and will look different from one agency to another. A few things to keep in mind:
Settings matter. Knowing how to configure your meetings makes a huge difference in their security and privacy. Learn how to use settings to your advantage.
Guidance is evolving. Zoom is making continual updates to its platform as more users sign up and demand better security. Official guidance from authorities will be subject to change as agencies learn more about the various platforms. We encourage everyone to educate themselves and contribute to the conversation on empowering government work both remotely and securely.
Security needs vary. The volume of official and classified information that most agencies need to exchange via video conferencing is small compared to the everyday business of government teams. Keep this in mind when making policy decisions, and don’t needlessly hamper daily productivity in the name of security.
Here’s a glimpse of the current (and varied) landscape of Zoom in government:
FedRAMP and GSA approved
According to FCW, “The Zoom for Government platform is on the General Services Administration’s buying schedule and also has that agency’s Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program moderate level approval. Zoom was sponsored in the FedRAMP approval process by the Department of Homeland Security, according to the company. The authorization allows federal agencies and contractors to securely use Zoom for government video meetings and API integrations, according to the company.”
DOD approved (for unclassified situations)
According to Defense One, “Zoom is officially approved for use in unclassified situations by troops, DoD employees, and contractors.”
State Department frowns on free version of Zoom for official business
According to VOA, “The State Department sent an email to employees … saying that the free version of Zoom “is not authorized for the conduct of official business or on official Department devices used to access OpenNet.” It told employees to use Cisco Webex, FAN Google Meet, Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business. ”
- Zoom security overview (Zoom)
- Setting up secure Zoom meetings for local governments (Michigan State University)
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