Elon Musk and NASA ban corporate use of Zoom over privacy concerns
SpaceX (Elon Musk’s aerospace manufacturer company) recently banned its employees from video conferencing via Zoom on account of “significant privacy and security concerns”.
NASA soon followed suit, along with U.S. law enforcement who issued a public warning regarding the security of the skyrocketing app.
The security concerns surrounding Zoom initially gained the spotlight alongside their sudden blow-up following cascading work-from-home arrangements for COVID-19. The first notable privacy shortcoming came in the form of “Zoombombing”, wherein uninvited guests could join a video conference to essentially run amuck. This ranged from intentional attempts to eavesdrop on confidential conversations, and simple trollery in the form of abuse, pornographic material, and general disruptive behavior.
In addition to this, multiple security concerns and exploits have been discovered over the past weeks, such as this major flaw that allowed accounts to be hijacked quite easily, as well as thousands of Zoom accounts being found for sale on the Dark Web.
And as recently as April 15th, two new exploits were discovered on both Windows and MacOS that could enable unauthorised parties to spy on Zoom meetings.
Zoom CEO Eric Yuan has done the respectable thing and owned up to the security concerns by issuing a public apology, and statement of action following these significant concerns, citing an unexpected, gigantic increase in the Zoom userbase (going from 10 million daily users up to 200 million since December.)
Regardless of whether you’re on Zoom, Slack or another video conferencing provider, here are a few easy things you and your colleagues can do to keep your conferences secure:
- Keep an eye on the participants in your conference
This is especially important for larger conferences, wherein unidentified or unauthorised persons can slip under the radar more easily. If you’re in a meeting of more than just a small team, it’s a good idea to assign a moderator who can keep track of participants.
- Be aware of your surroundings
Everyone has a story about accidentally sharing the wrong information in a conference (including myself). Be mindful of what’s up on the whiteboard in the background, and if you’re screen-sharing make sure you close confidential or embarrassing tabs.
- Limit confidential information through conferences
In light of these recent security concerns, it’s important to be mindful that video-conferences are another potential source of data leaks and security concerns. Limit the information you discuss in conferences to ensure that it isn’t leaked or eavesdropped on by malicious parties.
Finally, it’s important to note that while Zoom is currently in the limelight for security concerns, it’s likely that you’ll find similar issues on other video-conferencing services that simply aren’t as publicised at the moment.
Regardless of the platform you use, remember that video-conferencing is always another platform that you’re sharing data on. Conferencing should always be treated with caution and appropriate security policies accordingly.