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Zoom Buys Keybase to Add End-to-End Encryption to Improved Privacy

David Paul

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end-to-end encryption

The purchase will help the company to fix major problems with ‘Zoom Bombers’ and concerns about privacy on its systems.

Video chat service Zoom has announced the purchase of secure messaging service Keybase to add scalable end-to-end encryption onto its platform after cybersecurity issues.

Zoom is offering an end-to-end encrypted meeting mode to all paid accounts, giving more controls to meeting hosts and allowing users to securely join meetings.

Once logged-in, public cryptographic identities will be generated that are stored on Zoom’s network. These can then be used to establish trust relationships between those in the meeting.

The acquisition comes after the platform received recent criticism due to privacy breaches on its systems.

Cases of ‘Zoom Bombers’ entering public zoom meetings and showing indecent images or inappropriate content have been logged by several users.

The security concerns caused companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX to ban the use of Zoom, as well as the FBI warning users of the risks involved with sharing out information on public chats.

In a blog post, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said: “We believe this will provide equivalent or better security than existing consumer end-to-end encrypted messaging platforms, but with the video quality and scale that has made Zoom the choice of over 300 million daily meeting participants, including those at some of the world’s largest enterprises.

“As we do this work to further protect our users’ privacy, we are also cognizant of our desire to prevent the use of Zoom’s products to cause harm.”

Yuan continued: “This acquisition marks a key step for Zoom as we attempt to accomplish the creation of a truly private video communications platform that can scale to hundreds of millions of participants, while also having the flexibility to support Zoom’s wide variety of uses.”

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The CEO said that Zoom is “committed to remaining transparent and open” during the process of adding the new end-to-end encryption, with plans to release a draft cryptographic design on May 22.

The new encryption will not cover all features on the platform, however. The phone bridges, cloud recording, or non-Zoom conference room systems will not be supported.

The company has seen a huge boost in customers since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, with the number now at 300 million per day as people attempt to remain connected as they work and study from home.

“Our goal is to provide the most privacy possible for every use case, while also balancing the needs of our users and our commitment to preventing harmful behaviour on our platform.

“Keybase’s experienced team will be a critical part of this mission.”

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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