After seeing an increase from 10 million to 200 million daily users, serious flaws have been discovered in video chat software Zoom’s security protocols which allows some users to infiltrate calls and post inappropriate content.
‘Zoom-Bombers’ access unsecured chats and post sexual or violent content as well as hate speech, in some cases to family groups or religious services being held digitally. The security concerns also highlight how easily hackers could exploit the service now that millions of people have begun using it after having to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The software lets you create an online room that others can join and allowing a user to generate a code which can be used to access it. The platform also has a feature that allows people to share their screen with others.
The problems have arisen when people share their room code and do not password protect it, allowing anyone to join. In this case, if a screen is shared it allows someone to join and show inappropriate content such as threatening language, hate speech and pornographic images through their screen to everyone in the room.
Companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX have banned the use of Zoom, citing security reasons, as the FBI warned users of the risks involved with sharing out information on public chats.
The flaws have also raised concerns in Britain after it was revealed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet meetings are held using Zoom, potentially leaving conversations about the country’s affairs open to public access and hackers.
Zoom CEO, Eric S. Yuan, wrote in a blog post: “Over the next 90 days, we are committed to dedicating the resources needed to better identify, address, and fix issues proactively. We are also committed to being transparent throughout this process. We want to do what it takes to maintain your trust.”
Yuan also mentioned how the huge increase in new users has put a strain on Zoom’s services, but the company: “Strives to provide you with uninterrupted service and the same user-friendly experience that has made Zoom the video-conferencing platform of choice for enterprises around the world, while also ensuring platform safety, privacy, and security,” although he admits that Zoom has fallen short of those expectations.
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The platform was originally designed for businesses to hold video conferences and online meetings. As of December 2019, Zoom has around 10 million customers using its software. The platform has now seen an exponential growth in usage as people work and study from home, now reaching around 200 million per day.
Yuan commented: “we did not design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying, and socialising from home.”
The company says it is now implementing changes to its systems, including training and tutorial webinars, as well as looking into the security issues and that over the next 90 days will be implementing new measures to protect users such as a feature freeze, shifting all of its engineering resources to focus on trust, safety, and privacy issues and conducting a comprehensive review with third-party experts and representative users