Google is banning the use of the Zoom teleconferencing platform for employees. The company cites security concerns with the app that emerged since Zoom became one of the most popular services for free video chat during the COVID-19 pandemic. The news was first reported by BuzzFeed News earlier today.
Google emailed employees last week about the ban, telling workers they had the Zoom app installed on their machines provided by Google that the software would no longer work soon. It’s worth noting that Google offers its business competitor Zoom called Google Meet as part of its G Suite offering.
“We have long had a policy of not allowing employees to use unapproved applications for work that are outside of our corporate network,” Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda told The Verge. “Recently, our security team informed employees using the Zoom Desktop Client that it will no longer run on corporate computers as it does not meet our security standards for the applications used by our employees. Employees who have been using Zoom to keep in touch with family and friends can continue to do so through a web browser or mobile device. “
Even long before the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted Zoom’s vulnerabilities, the company faced criticism for privacy protection and lax security, such as in July last year when a macOS flaw allowed a URL to Zoom will forcefully activate a MacBook webcam.
However, since Zoom has become a leading provider of conference calls during the pandemic, the platform’s litany of other issues has expanded, especially around the ease with which random strangers can locate and jump into the calls. The practice is now known as “Zoombombing,” and the FBI says it will prosecute people for it. Part of the reason is because Zoom was never designed for consumer use at this scale; The company said earlier this month that it grew from 10 million to 200 million users in the past three months.
Other issues have included exposed Zoom recordings, sharing undisclosed data with Facebook, exposed LinkedIn profiles, and a “malware-like” installer for macOS. The company is now facing a backlash from security and privacy. Zoom has responded by competing to plug holes and tighten its corporate and consumer protections to avoid stiff competition from Microsoft and Skype teams, Google’s G Suite applications, and other more traditional teleconferencing providers. Zoom said earlier this month that it would pause new features for 90 days to focus on privacy and security.