Apparently, everyone knows about Zoom now: parents, coworkers, friends, grandparents, and neighbors. The video conferencing software company that went public last year is having a moment during the pandemic. People have flocked to the service to keep up with friends, create digital clubs, and even organize weddings. However, in this moment of immense growth, researchers and journalists have examined the application and have found multiple security and privacy risks. People are realizing that the free app could have the cost of giving up their personal data.
The main selling point of the app, at least for the general consumer world, is that it offers free 40-minute conference calls with up to 100 attendees. It is easy to use (people do not need to log in to access a meeting) and the interface is relatively intuitive. However, those same characteristics put people at risk.
Zoombombing, meanwhile, has taken advantage of Zoom’s system of randomly generated ID access codes and the lack of passwords required to join a call. People enter Zoom calls that are not theirs and broadcast offensive material, such as pornography. An automated tool developed by security researchers can find around 100 Zoom meeting IDs in one hour and information for nearly 2,400 Zoom meetings in a single day of scans, just as an example of how easy it can be to find meetings to join . Zoom says passwords have been enabled by default since late last year, but many people are not using them yet.
That’s not the only risk with Zoom. The company also has a problem with its “Company Directory” setting that could filter emails and photos from users, and Zoom confirmed to The Intercept that video calls in the app are not end-to-end encrypted as the company claims. Since then, the company has announced a 90-day freeze on the launch of new features and will focus on fixing privacy and security issues, it says.
People continue to use Zoom because it’s easy and free, but their competitors are making moves to catch up. There are a lot of alternatives, and multiple services have made certain features free or increase the number of people who can join a call. Zoom found massive success during a dark moment for the world, and will try to maintain that position, although doing so will require prioritizing user privacy and security over ease of use.