The Zoom application has been questioned by millions about its security and privacy these past months due to people “Zoom-bombing” Zoom calls.
Zoom has exploded in popularity recently as it is used by families, schools, and coworkers to meet and chat “face-to-face” while quarantined in their homes. In the official Zoom blog, “[at the] end of December last year, the maximum number of daily meeting participants … on Zoom was approximately 10 million.” This number has shot up by “March this year, [as] we reached more than 200 million daily meeting participants.”
However, this sudden success has some people questioning the integrity of Zoom, as some of these calls are interrupted by “Zoom-bombers.” These individuals take advantage of Zoom meetings that do not have a password set up. They barge into Zoom meetings and do everything in their power to interrupt and disturb the callers. In a news report by WCVB5, 4 “Zoom-bombers” invaded a virtual church service held by the Tabernacle Congregational Church. The narrator states that the “Zoom-bombers” were “playing videos of the Klu Klux Klan burning crosses as vulgar, racist music played in the background.” Since then, the local police and the FBI are investigating this incident as a hate crime case.
Multiple schools and companies have also banned the usage of Zoom due to these “Zoom-bombers” and other suspicious activities. Reported by Buzzfeed News, one of these affairs is about Motherboard, an online magazine made by VICE, exposing “Zoom’s app … [sending] data about users’ devices to Facebook.” Another inspection by The Intercept, an online news publication made by First Look Media, revealed that “Zoom calls weren’t actually encrypted the way that the company claimed.” Encryption is when information from the sender is encoded to protect it from any third parties that want to exploit it and only the receiver can decode that information.
Due to these security concerns, Zoom’s founder and CEO, Eric Yuan, has apologized to Zoom users in the official Zoom blog and has explained that this sudden rise of new users made the situation very complicated and hard to control. However, in the same blog post, Yuan made a 90-day plan to greatly improve Zoom’s security. He announced that Zoom will focus on “enacting a feature freeze … enhancing [their] current bug bounty program … launching a CISO council in partnership with leading CISOs from across the industry” and many more helpful plans to improve the safety of Zoom users.
Recently, Zoom launched a new version of their app, Zoom 5.0, which added a “Security” option to localize all the security options in one button, encryption, and hiding the meeting ID in the toolbar. Zoom has also hired Alex Stamos, a former Facebook CSO (Chief Security Officer), as security consultant and frozen all new features to focus on Zoom’s security. After all these new features and promises, can we now rely on Zoom, or should we stay away because of past incidents?
by Kevin Lee