The new reality of working from home and social distancing relies on the use of video conference platforms to connect with co-workers and customers. Zoom has recently emerged as one of the leading remote meeting platforms where users can engage in online video conferences, chat, and mobile collaboration. Zoom was founded in 2011 by software engineer Eric Yuan. The company went public on the NASDAQ in April 2019.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a boon for Zoom. Many schools, colleges, and companies across the country began downloading and using the platform just as the virus began to force people to work from home. Since March, the software has been downloaded 40 million times worldwide, and since February, the stock price for Zoom has nearly doubled from approximately $76 per share to $159 per share. But, as with many companies that find sudden success, Zoom’s flaws have been becoming more apparent to consumers.
Criticism of Zoom has revolved around its security flaws and a new phenomenon called “Zoombombing.” Zoombombing occurs when a hacker, prankster, or wrongdoer enters a Zoom meeting uninvited (aka “crashing a meeting”) and begins interrupting the meeting by posting inappropriate content or hijacking the meeting from the host. Zoombombing has led to many customers having to terminate their videoconferences, cancel meetings, and worry if their cyber security systems have been breached. One of our librarians at Bay Shore was in a webinar this week that had to be terminated due to a Zoombomber posting illicit content and disrupting the meeting.
In addition to Zoombombing, the rapid increase in Zoom usage has led to scrutiny of the company’s privacy policies and potential security flaws. In particular, Mac iOS users are vulnerable to security problems as hackers have been able to access Zoom on their computer to turn on cameras and microphones as well as install malware on their computer systems. Zoom has also come under criticism for giving user data to Facebook without users’ knowledge or permission. Zoom has since stopped giving user data to Facebook, but these problems have already led to class action lawsuits against Zoom.
While the privacy challenges need to be addressed at the company-level, Zoombombing is a threat we, as users, can take steps to combat as we continue to use Zoom throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond:
• Use the latest software: Ensure your participants are using the latest version of Zoom. The latest version has upgraded security features to block users from randomly scanning and joining meetings.
• Password protect: When creating a meeting, make sure your meetings require a password for participants to enter. Zoom has made password protection a default setting on the latest version of the platform.
• Direct invitation: Invite participants directly via email with an invitation and meeting password. Do not publicly post Zoom meeting information via social media or other public channels.
• Close your meeting: Once all participants have arrived at the meeting, close the meeting to any newcomers to avoid crashers. Hosts can close the meeting by clicking on the “Participants” tab at the bottom of the screen and choosing the “Lock Meeting” option.
• Remove/disable unwanted participants: The meeting host can remove and block crashers who are Zoombombing. The host can also disable the chat feature, mute all participants, disable participants from sharing videos, and limit screen sharing options to “Host only”.
If you experience a Zoombombing intrusion, be sure to report it to Zoom at the following link: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/requests/new
This post was contributed by Annette Carr, Librarian at the School of Health Sciences at Bay Shore
Peterson, M. (2020). Two more MacOS Zoom flaws surface, as lawsuit & government probe loom. Retrieved from https://appleinsider.com/articles/20/04/01/two-more-macos-zoom-flaws-surface-as-lawsuit-government-probe-loom