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Zoom has been the new trendsetter of “How to conference Call” all over the globe. With its gaining popularity amongst people who come under the “Work from home” banner. 

It didn’t take long for it to become from the talk of the town to a necessity for teachers, students, and major business corporations. Even Boris Johnson seems to have been using Zoom for his daily work meetings. 

Zoom claims to provide all the shiny features of friction-less video calls with up to 1000 video participants and 10,000 viewers. And it delivers well on that note, but it also claims to be secure and safe to use. Is it?

Where the problem arises?

Zoom has continuously been called out for its significant breaches in privacy all over the world. Including, strangers hijacking and entering the video conferences on Zoom (also known as zoombombing), completely disrupting the decorum of the ongoing meeting with racist messages, pornography and death threats. Such intrusion can be easily done by guessing the short number-based meeting URL. In a press release published by the FBI, such hijacking incidents were reported by two of the schools from Massachusetts.

In light of the recent events, Zoom has claimed to work alongside FBI and Law enforcement officials topping it all off by granting them access to intercept free calls. 

According to their Twitter handle, they claim to use it ONLY to control child sex abuse, but with the ongoing protests and all the riots in the USA, the Law enforcement officials are in a pool of quicksand. People have lost faith in them, and they would only look at this news with a lot of skepticism. 

In a comment with The Guardian, Evan Greer, the deputy director at Fight for the Future, a digital rights advocate stated that “Basic security shouldn’t be a premium feature that’s only available to wealthy individuals and big corporations.”  ”It’s just plain gross for the company to say they’ll only keep your calls safe and secure if you pay extra.”

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, people have shifted towards these digital platforms for meetings of all kinds, including financial and legal meet-ups, educational classes, medical appointments, etc. We have already been introduced to many cybersecurity and privacy risks involving Coronavirus.

In this digital era, an internet user’s essential digital privacy is at stake and there is little we can do to protect it. Though Zoom officials claim they “Do not proactively monitor meeting contents” among others, despite their history of being caught for not doing things they used to argue at first. 

Zoom’s recent collaboration with the FBI and Law officials might not be the first “third-party data sharing”. They are known to sell user data of iOS app users to Facebook for promotion and advertisements. As per their privacy and security policy, It might not sell data to “advertisers,” but it sure is selling it to companies for the sole purpose of advertising. 

How to save yourself from this significant privacy breach?

We may or may not ever get to experience a completely safe and secure version of Zoom, but there are enough hacks available for us to keep ourselves safe from Zoom exploitation: 

  • Avoid sharing meeting links publicly, even if your meeting is password-protected, the link encases the encrypted version of the password, and would still give you access to the chat room without any hassle. 
  • Use the Zoom web browser for meetings as it gets their security upgrade much faster than the standard desktop app. 
  • Lock the meeting once all the participants have entered the chat room. You can do that by selecting “Manage Participants,” select “More” in the participants’ menu, then select “Lock Meeting.” and you’re good to go.
  • Share the link a few minutes before the meeting, avoid any troll to enter through your shared link, and mention this in your invite to prevent misunderstandings. 
  • Shift to a different platform, if you find the intent of your meeting to be sensitive or triggering, use another software instead of Zoom to avoid any interruption at all.

Future for Zoom

It might be accessible nowadays, but it depends on how long it will stay that way. With their constant breaches, excuses, apologies, people might end up abandoning the software for good. 

And they are, with Skype being the oldest and most reliable digital communication platform, they are continually working and upgrading the site to match the user’s needs.

Google also introduced the option of conducting meetings through its platform of Google Hangouts and Google Meet.

With so many better options out there, it’s time Zoom finally deals with all their privacy concerns and not collaborate with officials at this sensitive time when trust and safety have become a significant concern in the year 2020. 

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