Zoom App: Is It A Spy Threatening Your Privacy

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is zoom app safe

 

Amidst this Coronavirus pandemic, many businesses are bearing huge losses. Some of the companies are even on the verge of shutting down. Despite these tough times for the businesses, there is one company which has gained a lot from this pandemic, that company is Zoom Video Communication.  This company provides services like Videotelephony, business telephone systems, and online chat through the Zoom app and Software.

The company has its headquarters located in San Jose, California, it was founded in 2011. Eric Yuan is the founder of the Zoom app. Though Zoom is a US-based company, its software is developed by three Chinese companies. This speaks a volume about the zoom app’s connection with China.

With the onset of Coronavirus, people are working from home and businesses are now mostly running online. In fact, not only the businesses, the education sector has also chosen the online way of teaching. All the important meetings, classes are now shifting online. This is where the Zoom app comes into play with its most popular service, Zoom Meetings. First, let us have a look at the various features of the Zoom app because of which it became famous and popular so quickly.

 

What the Zoom App Offers?

 

  • Zoom app provides free video conferences of up to 100 participants, with a 40-minute time limit.

  • One of the most useful features of the Zoom app is that one can easily connect with a third-party, i.e. with someone who does not belong to your organisation unlike other video conferencing apps like Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc. This feature is one of the most important reasons for Zoom’s rise to success.

  • It provides easy to join meeting links.

  • The participants can turn the audio/video off during ongoing calls, thus making it more preferable for lectures or when only one person needs to put in a presentation and others need to listen/see.

  • Participants can chat during live meetings.

  • Zoom app also provides a separate Q&A section. Thus making it more professional and sorted app.

There are many other paid features designed for business conferences, such as Zoom rooms, etc.

Despite Zoom’s popularity, there are some grave privacy and security concerns related to this app. Even the company’s CEO accepted and apologized to the uses for privacy and security gaps. Although the company’s CEO promised to focus on the security and privacy issues, the app is still not safe, as many hackers are easily gaining access to your meetings, personal information, passwords, etc.

Also Read: mParivahan App – A Must Have App For Vehicle Owners

Just imagine how untrustworthy this app is when a big-shot like Google has banned the employees from using the Zoom app on company’s computers. For the educators, it is imperative to know that Singapore has banned teachers from using the Zoom app due to security concerns, even NYC has forbidden the schools from using the Zoom app. Now, as we know that Zoom is definitely an app with a lot of security concerns, let us have a look at what exactly is going wrong, what are the factors responsible for these grave security concerns.

 

Security and Privacy Risks Associated With Zoom App

  • Data Routed Through China: In April 2020 only, Zoom accepted that most of the Zoom calls were routed through China. Can you guess, what was the company’s response to this? An apology, that is it. They didn’t even bother to offer a good explanation. Even though the paid users are now (Since 18 April 2020) given an option to choose the data center regions through which their calls will be routed, free users still do not have such an option.

  • Encryption Is Equivocal: Zoom does not use an End-to-End Encryption (E2EE) as the company claims, instead it uses transport encryption, which is not as secure as an E2EE.

  • Zoombombing: This is said to occur when an unwanted participant joins a meeting to cause disruption. Now, you will say how can someone join without a meeting link, password or ID? Well, people are guessing the meeting ID online and entering without an invitation to cause disruption. The hackers find the open meeting and guess the Meeting IDs through an automated software called zWarDial. Though Zoom has taken this into account and enabled common sense features like password-protecting meetings by default. As per Zoom, the problem is resolved, but hackers think otherwise, they still can gain access to the meetings.

  • Hackers Are Selling Your Data On The Dark Web: Cyber-criminals are collecting your data via the zoom app and are selling it on the dark web for pennies. A cyber-security firm, Cyble claimed to purchase over 500,000 Zoom accounts for less than a dollar each.

Looking at the above security concerns, it will be wise to avoid using the Zoom app. Still, if you have to use the zoom app because your organisation won’t buzz or you can’t find a suitable replacement for the app then you use it very carefully. Let’s have a look at what you can do to ensure your privacy remains intact.

Alter The Following Settings in Zoom App

  • If you are the host, enable the “Waiting Room” feature, it will enable you to see who is trying to join the meeting before giving them access. To enable the Waiting Room feature, click Account Management, look for Account Settings. Now, select Meeting, then click Waiting Room.

  • Once everybody meant to join the meeting are in, lock the meeting to outsiders. Assign co-hosts for the meeting as co-hosts will be helpful to get the situation under control if the hackers get in by overriding the host’s attempt. To select the co-hosts, click on the Settings, select the Meeting tab, find Co-host, ensure it is enabled. If asked to verify, select Turn On.

  • Always use a Per-meeting ID instead of a personal meeting ID. To know how to do it, see this video by Zoom.

Actions To Take When Someone Zoombombs Your Meeting

  • Go to the Participants List from the sidebar, click More > Lock Meeting. This will stop any other person from joining your meeting and now you will be able to remove the unwanted hacker.

  • If the hacker or the zoombomber is disrupting your audio, here is what you can do. Go to the Participants List and click Mute All Control. This will mute the hackers’ audio.

  • The last resort is to end the meeting.

 

Also Read- Google Meet : Offering Free Video Calls to Everyone

In the end, we will say keep your data safe when using apps like Zoom. As you must have understood by now that Zoom is not one of the safest apps out there, try to find an alternative. Though Zoom has promised to address the security and privacy concerns, it is always a good idea to be on your guard when using such apps. We hope you will find this article useful, do share with your colleagues, friends, and relatives to keep them safe. If you have anything to share with us, feel free to comment.

22 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t have a ZOOM account but I have begun to hear some negative things about the site. I will still use it though (through my husband’s account) because I really don’t have anything to hide.

  2. I just think that every app somehow get your info leak to the government or to third parties. It’s not that surprising. I don’t have Zoom just because I don’t have enough memory on my phone.

  3. Thank you for the information. Hopefully, Zoom fixes any security and privacy issues as they are becoming an incredibly popular resource!

  4. All apps are not perfect, there are always flaws and it continues to upgrade. I haven’t used ZOOM yet (coz I don’t have a need).

  5. These are some really good tips and resources that I find so useful about the zoom app. I can really put them to good use.

  6. I have used Zoom for a long time before the pandemic and never once heard about the potential digital threats with the software. I am more worried now than in the past as more people are using and more hackers are attacking it. But cameras are not the safest thing ever either.

  7. I’ve used zoom a few times in the past but didn’t like it and deleted it. I’m glad I did too because I’ve heard some weird things about it. Thanks for sharing.

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