As the NFL prepares for a fully-virtual NFL Draft April 23-25, the Texans, like all teams, have been conducting most business via video conferencing platforms like Skype, Webex and Zoom.
Many teams, including the Texans, say they plan to use the same platforms during the draft, while also connecting to the NFL’s server.
All three platforms have proved to be susceptible to hackers, according to experts. The most vulnerable appears to be Zoom, which during the Covid-19 pandemic has grown from roughly 10 million users to more than 250 million. The Texans mentioned Zoom specifically as one of the platforms it has used – and will use.
But numerous cyber security experts say Zoom has significant vulnerabilities and has not lived up to its security promises. In fact, privacy advocates and even the FBI has warned that Zoom’s default settings are not secure enough to protect privacy during video conferences.
Already, experts say Zoom inadvertently has leaked “thousands” of emails, sent user habits to Facebook even when the user does not have a Facebook account and been hacked multiple times.
Among the thousands of hacks already discovered are hackers tapping into video cameras and even writing messages on video conference screens.
The risks for NFL teams, of course, are numerous.
Intrepid hackers could gain access to pre-draft interviews of players and disrupt or even shut down conferences mid-draft.
Cyber security researcher Trent Lo and members of SecKC have said security steps thus far have been largely ineffective, especially against a process called,
zWarDialing. The zWarDialing process allows hackers to find open Zoom meetings and through a series of computer-generated processes, breaches the meetings.
Rams COO Kevin Demoff told NBC Sports' Peter King: “With "The security aspect, which is probably the most important for teams, how do you make sure your conversations are protected?"
Texans coach Bill O’Brien has not had media availability to address the concern, or how the team is dealing with it.
But one thing seems apparent: In a league where every strategic advantage is a temptation, inside information during the NFL Draft never has appeared more vulnerable.