A number of concerns have arisen about a video-conferencing tool that has become tremendously popular during the current pandemic.
As people are forced to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19, our school and work offices have transitioned online and have become reliant on video-conferencing apps. Zoom has globally become among the most popular such apps. However, it has recently come under fire for its privacy infringements and unreliable security measures.
There have been at least two recent lawsuits against Zoom involving these issues. The FBI on March 30 announced an investigation into increased instances of “Zoombombing,” where hackers interrupt video calls with racial slurs and inappropriate images. Zoom has released guidelines on how to prevent this. Zoom also had a security bug where hackers could take over the microphones and cameras of Mac users.
Zoom has boasted about end-to-end encryption that is meant to protect messages, but analysis of this code has shown that it isn’t effective in hiding the messages from outsiders. On April 1, a Zoom executive apologized in a blog post for the “discrepancy between the commonly accepted definition of end-to-end encryption and how we were using it.”
Zoom is being denounced for its misappropriation of personal data, too. The tech outlet Motherboard reported that Zoom was sending data from Apple product users to Facebook to employ for advertising, even if the user did not have a Facebook account. Zoom has changed some of its policies and apologized for the “confusion.”
Zoom has also been criticized for its “attention tracking feature,” where the host is alerted if any caller clicks away from the Zoom window for more than 30 seconds. This allows employers to keep an eye on their employees and gives the teachers the ability to see if their students are paying attention. Some have decried this as an attack on privacy.
Zoom has greatly benefited from this pandemic, but its reputation could suffer as more questions crop up about its practices.
Some alternatives to Zoom are Microsoft Team, Google Meet, WebEx and Jitsi.
By Sagarika Pal
Harwell, Drew. “Everybody Seems to Be Using Zoom. But Its Security Flaws Could Leave Users at Risk.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 2 Apr. 2020, http://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/04/02/everybody-seems-be-using-zoom-its-security-flaws-could-leave-people-risk/.
Paul, Kari. “’Zoom Is Malware’: Why Experts Worry about the Video Conferencing Platform.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 2 Apr. 2020, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/02/zoom-technology-security-coronavirus-video-conferencing.