Zoom, a name we were all quite unaware of before this deadly Coronavirus pandemic, hit our world and its civilization. The worldwide quarantine that people are going through is hitting the educational and career-oriented industries the most.
While companies are promoting work from home or reduced employee attendance, social distancing was becoming a significant obstruction for lectures, meetings, and seminars when Zoom zoomed in and saved the day (apparently).
Zoom Video Communications Inc., created and launched in 2011, is an American communications technology brand that offers a cloud-based platform for webinars, videotelephony, online chat services, teleconferencing, telecommuting, and practicing distance education. It has gained so much popularity over the last quarter that it is #34 in the Alexa search ranks.
However, for the last fortnight, the number of Zoom users has significantly dropped due to allegations that point towards data theft and fraud. About thousands of users from over the globe have complained of issues with their cybersecurity.
Many also suspected malware that corrupted and compromised the safety of their data. Thus, it is again on headlines. The jury is still out whether Zoom is a safe space for communication, or is it another way for the capitalist organizations to monitor, influence, and control us.
Why Zoom Gained Popularity During Lockdown
There are a lot of traditional and upcoming service providers that offer web conferencing and online video calling opportunities to their users. It is the next and to date the highest level of telecommunications possible. However, there are some specific features Zoom won over all other operators and applications like Skype, IMO, Google Hangouts, Cisco, Bluejeans, etc.
- Support System: The support system of Zoom is something the company always boasts about. There is the exclusive phone support that is available through multiple time zones and in various languages. The website, as well as the application, is straightforward and convenient to operate. It is incredibly user-friendly and straightforward.
- Features: Zoom Video Communications Inc have a reputation for frequently updating their application and the features. This means it always remains dynamic and has the most advanced features among all its competitors.
- Scheduling Meetings: One more reason Zoom gained immense popularity is because here, you can easily invite people and schedule meetings. You don’t have to worry about reminding anyone or passing on information. As a host, as well as a member, your account will keep track of your meetings and notify you well on time.
- Host Controls: The host of the meeting is the person who acts as admin and organizes the meetings and invites the members. They also can access a unique username and password for the particular meeting which they share with the invitees. The host can decide which members can speak and who can stay as listeners only. One can also create a co-host for a meeting, and the controls are more than any other company offers.
Disadvantages and Risks Related to Zoom
Admittedly the zoom app seems to have worked favors during the COVID-19 work from the home crisis. However, the app comes associated with several disadvantages that are hard to look by, such as:
- Security Concerns: In early April 2020, reputed Indian news channels like Hindustan Times and The Economic Times first reported the data security concerns attached to Zoom. This was after hundreds of people starting using it all over the country to carry on webinars and online classes while maintaining social distancing. The hackers had used the corona crisis and the surge in internet usage that the lockdown brought to malign business meetings, try banking phishing, and even posting offensive and obscene content to disrupt the business and goodwill of companies.
- Cyber Attacks: According to another news report website, Deccan Herald, over 600 thousand people have fallen victim to data theft, which was sold on the dark web. Various National Security Agencies from all across the globe have raised concerns and began to investigate the matter.
- Fall of Goodwill and Decrease in Consumers: Due to multiple news agencies covering stories of data leak via Zoom and Security Agencies investigating to find the collaborators, many people today are not comfortable to use this application. Thus the premium advantage of using Zoom to communicate with anybody and everybody is gone.
- Links with China: Not only did Zoom sell user information to an organization like Facebook, who, not before long, was questioned for data theft themselves, the conferencing app has also been discovered to have ties with Chinese servers who practiced geofencing techniques.
Precautions and Preventive Measures
- Update the App: The company is aware of the data leak and claiming to try their best to stop it. The newer versions are more secure and have extensive protocols to prevent data theft. Thus, updating your application regularly puts you in a safe position.
- Create a Waiting Room: Creating a waiting room means until the host doesn’t start the meeting, the people can’t talk within themselves.
- Invite Only and Locked Meeting: Invite only meetings to make sure there are no unwanted guests who might try to hack the members’ accounts and devices. Locking a meeting after it starts prevents anyone else from joining.
- Use and Update Your Antivirus: The antivirus applications are mostly able to identify and remove threats to our devices. Thus they should be regularly updated.
During this COVID 19 health and socio-economic crisis worldwide, the security provided by Zoom has become a point of contention. Although, the company has noticed all crises and promised to induce essential and significant changes in their programming, implement new and advanced features, and make the calls end-to-end encrypted to ensure data safety.
Another question is whether safety will prevail or scammers will find another loophole to exploit and steal personal data. As we all know, data is the most expensive and essential asset in today’s time, dodging oil and gold at their respective rates. And to our loss, even the CEO of Zoom, Eric Yuan, agreed to route calls via Chinese servers, which gave away and compromised our data security.