April 11, 2020

Is it safe to use Zoom and what’s next for Zoom Platform?

Zoom has seen unprecedented growth and the video conferencing software has become a household name in the last one month because of Coronavirus impact, but it was also in the news because of security and privacy concerns. It became one of the top performing stock on the NASDAQ this year with up to 130% gains, but also had to go through a lot of embarrassment and losing many high profile customers because of their privacy policy, sketchy installer and questionable encryption in the last few weeks.

Given the latest developments, let’s understand if it is safe to use Zoom, what’s next and how to set up a zoom meeting safely.

GROWTH STORY

Zoom has become the buzzword amongst children, teachers, homemakers, families, governments and corporates as they use zoom meeting to teach, learn, discuss recipes, catching up with friends / family, conducting video conference meetings and much more especially during the lockdown because of Coronavirus. Even the 5th grade child and 75-year-old granny knows what is zoom today.

Bernstein Research analysts wrote in a note distributed to clients that the company added 2.22 million monthly active users as of Feb 26, 2020, while in 2019 it added 1.99 million. According to the estimates, Zoom has added more users in the first 2 months of 2020 than the whole of 2019.

Lot of people are using the free option which allows users to conduct unlimited 1 to 1 meetings, hosts up to 100 hosts and allowing 40 minutes for group meetings. 

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WHAT WENT WRONG

While Zoom has become an integral part of many people’s lives for studies, work and pleasure, the security vulnerabilities of the software and privacy concerns have made many corporates, governments and education institutions ban zoom application.

SECURITY VULNERABILITIES

SKETCHY INSTALLER

Zoom’s installer needed admin privileges to gain root access to a user’s computer. This access could be abused to install programs without the user’s knowledge, including the ability to access a user’s webcam and microphone. 

QUESTIONABLE ENCRYPTION

Zoom claimed they were encrypting end-to-end, but later it admitted to The Intercept that Zoom did not use E2EE for video calls. Zoom uses some encryption (known as transport encryption) but not the more secure end-to-end type. This lets Zoom access unencrypted video and audio from meetings. 

ZOOM-BOMBING

“Zoom-bombing” or “Houseparty hacking” terms became talking points recently when people started joining meetings unannounced. People guess or find Zoom meeting ID numbers and enter the meetings uninvited to disturb the meetings or share disruptive media using Zoom’s screen-share feature.

ZOOM PRODUCT UPDATES: New Security Toolbar Icon for Hosts, Meeting ID No Longer Displayed

On April 8, Zoom implemented an important update to help make the meetings more private and secure. The most visible change that meeting hosts will see is an option in the Zoom meeting controls called Security. This new icon simplifies how hosts can quickly find and enable many of Zoom’s in-meeting security features.

Visible only to hosts and co-hosts of Zoom Meetings, the Security icon provides easy access to several existing Zoom security features so you can more easily protect your meetings. Check more details in this Zoom post and in the video below: -https://blog.zoom.us/wordpress/2020/04/08/zoom-product-updates-new-security-toolbar-icon-for-hosts-meeting-id-hidden/

LATEST UPDATE

QUOTING MOTLEY FOOL:

On Wednesday (8 April 2020), Zoom launched a 90-day play to bolster privacy and security initiatives. The plan includes the creation of a chief information-security officer council and advisory board to open up a dialogue about privacy, security, and technology challenges for its platform.

“This group will enable me to be a more effective and thoughtful leader and will help ensure that privacy and security are at the forefront of everything we do at Zoom,” said CEO Eric Yuan in a press release on Wednesday.

But news that Google had banned the Zoom app from its employees’ devices reinvigorated privacy concerns. The app did not meet the company’s security standards, a Google spokesperson told BuzzFeed.

WHAT’S NEXT

Over the next 90 days, Zoom and third-party experts will conduct “a comprehensive security review,” the company said on Wednesday. This third-party platform notably includes Alex Stamos, a highly respected authority on cybersecurity.

HOW TO SET UP A ZOOM MEETING SAFETY

I am sharing an article where Telegraph UK has shared detailed steps to join and schedule Zoom meeting safely in 3 sections. I highly recommend following these steps -

  1. How to set up a secure Zoom meeting on your phone or tablet
  2. How to set up a secure Zoom meeting on your computer
  3. Scheduling a Zoom meeting

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2020/04/09/set-zoom-meeting-safely/

The success of Zoom is an inspirational story and Eric Yuan is a hero to so many. Zoom is an amazing tool and has helped many people across the world, especially in the present lockdown and coronavirus situation. Fans from all over the world wish Zoom and it’s team to sort the security issues and zoom again to newer heights and regain the confidence of their customers.

Happy Zooming!

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