Zoom encounters setbacks during COVID-19 homeworking surge

Zoom encounters setbacks during COVID-19 homeworking surge
The popular video conferencing application, Zoom, has come under scathing criticism from concerned users, governments and security experts due an increase of disruptive and intrusive online behaviour as well as concerns of alleged security weaknesses.

National headlines have been flashing up online as some companies and governments begin to turn away from the popular Zoom conferencing platform, with SpaceX’s Elon Musk banning the use of the platform citing security and privacy weaknesses. 

Security concerns were also raised in the UK, after the government came under fire for use of the platform after it was revealed that British prime minister Boris Johnson’s meeting ID of a cabinet meeting was visible in a tweet published by the prime minister.

Taiwan has also banned the conferencing platform for government bodies citing security concerns that Zoom traffic was “mistakenly” routed through the People’s Republic of China, which does not recognise Taiwanese independence. 

According to the BBC, Taiwan stated that products with security concerns “such as Zoom” should not be used by public bodies. 

However, the Taiwanese government’s call-out of Zoom is not the first time that the platform has been called into question with security concerns, with researchers from the Canada-based Citizen Lab producing a report that examined the encryption of meetings on the app, finding that Zoom has “rolled their own” encryption scheme which allegedly has significant weaknesses. 

Other areas of concern in the infrastructure were identified, including the transmission of meeting encryption keys through the People’s Republic of China. 

The report also cites Zoom’s ownership of three China-based companies which could make Zoom responsive to pressure from the Chinese communist government, similar concerns which have been cited in the adoption of Huawei technology in 5G networks in the UK and around the world.

‘Zoom bombing’, a hacking/trolling phenomenon where unwelcome and uninvited users intrude on a video conference call has become a frequent problem for some Zoom users, including the appearance of pornographic videos during a dual credit call hosted on Zoom by Southcentral Kentucky and Community and Technical College in Bowling Green, USA. 

Zoom bombing has been blamed for the plummeting of Zoom stock prices, with the Dow Jones reporting a drop in share prices as high as 15% this week.

Conversely, the company has seen an uptake of 81% overall for 2020 as home/remote working has surged during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Eric Yuan, founder and CEO of Zoom said in an interview with CNN that: “During this COVID-19 crisis, we moved too fast. Our intention was to serve end users [however] we had some missteps.

“We have already taken action to fix those missteps, new user cases are very different to our traditional business and enterprise customers where they have IT teams for support.”


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