Privacy

Zoom for Government Purposes: Yes or No?

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The recent buzz around the video communication app Zoom has turned many heads. In the face of coronavirus lockdown, the app skyrocketed as a fruitful initiative to help all kinds of quarantined professionals, students and even families to stay connected online.

High profile figures like the Prime Minister of UK, Boris Johnson, was seen using the app for governmental activities. This came into the attention of a lot of security experts and has been a contentious incident since. However, the government was quick to respond. As cited on BBC News, a Cabinet Office spokesperson commented on the use of Zoom for government purposes: “In the current unprecedented circumstances the need for effective channels of communication is vital. National Cyber Security guidance shows there is no security reason for Zoom not to be used for conversations below a certain classification.”

However, the application has received a lot of bad rap in the process, and for valid reasons. 

Launched in 2013, the application came into use in 2015 and has been the butt of criticism in the tech world ever since. Some of the key issues in and around the application are listed as follows:

  • Zoom-bombing – Unwarranted access to an ongoing video conference, projection of pornographic visuals in the middle of a call, racist hackers pitching in demeaning slurs, etc.
  • End-to-end encryption is a NO – Despite its initial claims of having an end-to-end encryption model as the app’s security system, it turned out to be a fraudulent claim. The application uses a below par model as opposed to the industry standard of end-to-end encryption to “secure” its users’ data.
  • Talks on selling information to third parties – There is enough evidence gathered by tech experts proving that Zoom sells its users’ database to third party platforms like Facebook for advertising purposes which is done without the knowledge of the users.

So, what’s at stake for the Government?

EVERYTHING.

Zoom has been called “a privacy disaster” and “a malware” by many experts. It is evident from the issues listed that it is definitely a bad idea to conduct official discussions by the government via the app, and comes with a whole assortment of risks. The application is banned in Malaysia and the US on the basis of privacy concerns that clouds the app. Even though Zoom has been working on its privacy, the application has failed miserably to be trusted enough. In short, for the governments around the world, Zoom is a big NO.

Theertha Dhanesh
A novice in cybersecurity aiming to promote discussions in privacy and security related areas, and helping users to understand the intricacies of this world a little better.

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