Teachers have a warranted concern about privacy issues using online portals to meet and teach students. In the normal scenario, what goes on in a classroom is between the students and the teacher, hence the door of a classroom is closed when in session. However, being online is a different issue.
When you are online you are susceptible to the internet pool. The analogy surrounds this scenario: if you jump into a swimming pool are you immune from others in that pool? The answer is no, because the water acts as a carrier from you to everyone else in that pool and vice versa. The internet is no different. I can go in depth here but that is another topic.
I have already heard of many being hacked using the program (App / progs) Zoom for meetings so I won't delve into that much but what I write below applies to it and similar progs as well. You can see: Source 7h for some concerns and tips. I will also like to dispel any belief that this generation is somehow naive to the ability to hack, infiltrate and so forth using publicly accessible programs and videos about how to do it.
You can see in this support topic where a teacher related her concerns and the follow on answers from Google. Please keep in mind that Google is first and foremost a business, so they will never implicate themselves in anything that could cause a liability lawsuit. Source 8l. Google will not say, yes, there is a chance you can be hacked using our software.
Google believes it cannot be hacked unless Admin (The person that setup the Meet) has not set it up properly or is haphazard with the administration of the same. So, you are essentially relying on Admin to effectively be a secure Administrator which of course you cannot verify.
While, I do not refer to myself as a "Hacker" I do hack code regularly for clients and also see where hackers are constantly trying to get into our own server. I am usually called on to rescue them long after the hacker has compromised the backdoor to their server. For your information… The real term should be "Cracker". Also, it is a dreamers paradise to believe nothing can be hacked. That is like saying no one can break into your home. It will be difficult BUT with the right tools, time and know how they will enter. Same goes for any portal online.
As I have indicated in other articles, internet security is NOT just about usernames and passwords. One would have to examine the internet connection they are using and the computer itself. Is the software up to date, does it have a firewall, are questionable sites being visited and so forth? Picture this… you are using a compromised computer where someone can see what you are doing online. Yet, you believe because no one knows your password you are safe. What do you think will happen next?
Also, any portal system is based on the weakest link. So while the main online meeting may be under control it does NOT mean that the devices being used by the student (Be it phone or computer) has not been compromised thus giving others (Besides the student) access to your classroom.
The other issue is privacy as mentioned in the first paragraph. People often think that you need to rely on the program itself to record stuff but that is so silly because you can use any dozen of video recording programs to record anything on your screen not to mention they can simply use their phones. With the advent of streaming live a classroom could be shown to the world in real time.
Keep all this in mind when you use any online app… it is not about the app but everyone using it. Just like its not just about if the pool has enough chlorine in it but its also about all those who are jumping in that pool with preexisting conditions (Infiltrated computers, intentions that are not wholesome).
Therefore, in my opinion, online time needs to be quick direct help. In other words, cover the things students would need extra help with and the actual lessons you can do via a send, receive, and verify scenario.
Essentially, once you use the internet you are exposed to some level / degree. What 'protects' most people is the fact that every day billions of people use the internet so a hacker randomly coming cross your connection may be like winning the lottery UNLESS... You make it easier to find you.
Some proactive general measures in my opinion:
1. Do not use mobile phones, they are even less secure than a laptop or PC.
2. Do not use any public / free wi-fi connections.
3. Ensure you have a firewall installed on your system so you can know who is connection to your computer and which program is seeking to access the internet.
4. Make sure you have an active and up to date virus checker
5. Do not visit questionable sites or just randomly click links especially from Emails unless you know the source.
6. Do not download and install anything unless it is a legit source.
There is a lot more that can be added, but these are the basics.
Since those platforms are becoming more popular because of the pandemic maybe they will work towards making the software more secure for the end users? It won't solve the issues JB mentioned but it might help a lot.