By now you would have heard of video conferencing platform Zoom, a business who has risen in immense popularity during the first quarter of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoom is nothing new however, they have been around since 2011 and have been steadily increasing their capabilities with the backing of many prominent venture capital firms.

If you aren’t familiar with Zoom video conferencing, take 37 seconds to watch this overview of the product.

Rise to fame and security issues

Zoom’s rapid rise to fame in the competitive world of video conferencing may come as a shock to some. With well established competitors Skype and Microsoft Teams being left out of the limelight during an unprecedented surge in demand for video conferencing as friends, family, education institutions and everyone in between rush to stay connected and continue to move forward with their lives.

The ease of access to join meetings and the simplification of the user interface has undoubtably helped Zoom’s success. Not to mention the capability of being able to host a 100-person meeting without handing over a single cent to the company.

Of very recent times, many organisations have shown concern towards, or have even forgone Zoom in favour of other platforms due to looming security issues. The primary security issue affecting Zoom comes straight from one of their unique selling propositions, ease of access.

“Zoombombing” as it’s known, is the practice of joining Zoom meetings without the permission of the hosting party, disrupting the meeting and sometimes sharing content which isn’t deemed appropriate through screen sharing. This is typically achieved by trying to guess the Meeting ID number or locating one on social media through shared images.

An example of Zoombombing by comedian Hamish Blake on his Instagram video series Zoom For One More shows how easy it is, with Hamish joining an Australian Air Force flight log meeting.

More Pressing Security Concerns

Zoombombing doesn’t compare to the very real concern of confidential information being leaked to the public or sold to third parties.

Beyond the very real thought that an individual’s personal information could be sold off for advertising purposes. Many businesses, education institutions and governments are choosing to move away from Zoom due to the fear of their intellectual property being stolen and their reputation being tarnished due to leaked video calls and screen sharing.

A notable example has been Elon Musk, who has ordered all employees of SpaceX to cease using Zoom over privacy and security concerns. Many more will inevitably follow suit.

Conclusion

As many people know, Zoom is a fantastic platform for video conferencing during this uncertain time, despite its numerous security issues. With many organisations around the world voicing their concerns, rapid changes are being implemented to fix these issues and to keep Zoom moving ahead of its competitors.

To date, Zoom has frozen its research and development for new service features and has moved towards updating their security to curb the number of unauthorised persons joining meetings and to combat private information sharing to third parties such as Facebook.

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If you use Zoom for video conferencing, will you be using it in the future after knowing the security risks?

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