One company that is experiencing an influx of new users due to the coronavirus pandemic is Zoom. The video-conferencing platform has become a popular choice for education providers, remote workers, as well as family and friends across the world as people find new ways to connect online while social distancing. Though, the company wasn’t prepared for its newfound popularity and now faces a range of issues from privacy concerns and online harassment to leaks on the dark web.
In an interview with NPR All Things Considered co-host Ari Shapiro, CEO and founder Eric Yuan responded to the current criticism of Zoom.
"We're going to transform our business to a privacy-and-security-first mentality,” Yuan promised.
Later on a live YouTube stream, he apologized to users for a string of security lapses and spoke for more than two hours about the company’s recent privacy updates and pledged to take any lapses seriously.
“Clearly we have a lot of work to do to ensure the security of all these new consumer use cases,” Yuan said on the call. “But what I can promise you is that we take these issues very, very seriously. We’re looking into each and every one of them. If we find an issue, we’ll acknowledge it and we’ll fix it.”
The company has rolled out a series of changes intended to prevent “zoombombing” - when uninvited attendees break into and disrupt a meeting - and other harassment on the service. The incidents have prompted the FBI to warn schools about using Zoom. While law enforcement agencies have pledged to prosecute Zoombombers. As a result, large school districts, companies, and governments have banned the platform entirely.
Zoom is also bringing in help to manage its new security and privacy challenges. The company has tapped former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos who will be collaborating with the company on its security work, although he will not be an employee or an executive with Zoom.
“In a time of global crisis, Zoom has become a critical link between co-workers, families, friends and, most importantly, between teachers and students,” Stamos said in a Medium post. “[That] has created privacy, trust and safety challenges that no company has ever faced.”
Reports have shown that user information is also being sold on the dark web. Personal account information including email addresses, passwords, and the web addresses for Zoom meetings are being posted freely and sold for “pennies” on a dark web marketplace.
“Zoom takes user security seriously," a Zoom spokesperson said in response to the leak. “We continue to investigate, are locking accounts we have found to be compromised, asking users to change their passwords to something more secure, and are looking at implementing additional technology solutions to bolster our efforts.”