Almost every region of the world is on lock-down right now, fear is in the air, along with some anger and despair. And no, this is not due to an alien invasion or a coming asteroid impact, but what experts call the novel Corona Virus.
Due to the lock-down, lots of people have no option than to work from their home when and if they can. To make that happen, they often opt to use video conferencing tools. Such tools enable the holding of virtual meetings that can be business or fun-related. Among the plethora of video-conferencing tools on the market, one known as Zoom has speedily become the darling of everyone and anyone.
However, Zoom like anything else on this globe has its good and bad sides. It is easy to use and incredibly convenient. But it can be rather unsafe. Do join us as we detail what makes Zoom an unsafe video calling platform.
Zoom – A Beginning
Zoom is a multi-platform video conferencing tool that can be downloaded on iOS, Android, Mac and Windows. It can also be used via web browser extensions.
Zoom offers both audio and video teleconferencing services but is by no means the first to do so. Skype has been offering much the same services for nearly a decade, and there are loads of other apps that perform the same or much the same function.
However, unlike other platforms, Zoom has a punchy advantage in that folks don’t need to register to use it. This is mainly what limits other video conferencing platforms.
Skype, for example, needs you to set an account and manually add up each person you want to chat or video call. That is not all that convenient. Even worse, you need to know the Skype username of the person you want to video chat with. Apple’s Facetime on the other hand can only be used on iOS devices and also requires manually adding up each video caller.
Zoom, on the other hand, is radically different and that is mainly the reason it is on everyone’s lip these days. With Zoom, an individual merely needs to register an account and then send an invite link to those they wish to chat with. These people then either access Zoom from their web browser or download the app from the App Store or Playstore.
Zoom – So Unsafe
So, what makes an apparently great platform like Zoom so unsafe? Well, for one:
For inexplicable reasons, Zoom has not been very attentive to privacy concerns. On Zoom, it is possible for a meeting to be recorded and then saved in the cloud. Meeting transcripts are sometimes produced too, often without the knowledge of users.
Even worse, all texts sent and received during a meeting get saved, regardless of if they were sent to all members at the meeting or merely exchanged between two. So, messaging your workmate with complaints as to how incredibly boring a Zoom meeting is and how you wish you were sleeping somewhere nice could get you something worse than a reprimand when the meeting host (your boss) sees your messages once the meeting has ended.
Zoom additionally collects user data. It saves these and shares this with third party sites. Most of these third-party sites are advertisers, with the information Zoom makes available enabling better-targeted ads. The data Zoom shares include not only the name and personal details of Zoom users, but also all files, messages and the like that were shared between and among users on the Zoom platform.
Privacy and security are often opposite sides of the same coin, with a weakness in one area often strongly influencing the other. Zoom has several serious security issues and the increasing number of users is helping expose these.
For instance, Zoom for some reason that cannot be properly explained, once installed a concealed web server, that runs on Mac devices. Once such devices were launched, the software by default ran in the background. It turned on the device webcam and all without the knowledge of users. Once this became common knowledge, Apple was less than pleased and Zoom was forced to fix the issue in a hurry. The backlash Zoom received for this stunt has since made it change the way its app runs on Mac devices. Zoom has also made some deceptive statements.
For example, it has boasted that its app enjoys end-to-end encryption. The fact is that while meetings on Zoom are indeed encrypted between and among the participants, that is not the case on Zoom’s servers. With the company possessing the encryption keys, anyone within Zoom can use these keys to learn all that was discussed in a meeting.
More, Zoom on Windows devices can potentially be utilized to illegally access and acquire user credentials. This can then be used to tap into shared network resources. Then there’s Zoombombing. This is where random fellas crack the access code for Zoom meetings and then enter these meetings to cause havoc. Due to the multiple security issues on Zoom, it is not that much of a surprise that countries and organizations have banned its use. This includes the US Senate, Standard Chartered, Siemens, Google, NASA, Tesla, and Apple. In India, government employees have been warned to steer clear of the Zoom app due to its serious security issues.
Are you using Zoom? Well, so long as you are using it to organize online get-togethers and family meetings you should be alright. However, using the app when discussing sensitive matters or business issues should be avoided. Unless of course, you are highly desirous of being used as a cautionary tale.