Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!
With the majority of the UK workforce now having to work from home, it was inevitable that online meetings would spike tenfold. As such, many of the video conferencing tools available out there have been pummelled with usage from various employees now away from their offices. There is a huge plethora of services to pick from, but Zoom in particular has seen a sharp increase in uptake thanks to it’s simple interface and the ability to download, setup & run a meeting in minutes. Additionally, its free version offers the core requirements you would expect from an online meeting tool – custom backgrounds, participant management, screen sharing, etc. Because of this, it has had an immense surge in activity. However, there are some concerns around it’s security and reliability in certain scenarios. Because of the huge wave of additional users, Zoom is now naturally coming under more scrutiny in terms of the way it operates. Many people are now pointing out major flaws with its service, leaving Zoom scrambling to patch and add as much as it possibly can to it’s service, in a time of such incredible demand.
One main concern around the usage of Zoom is it’s questionable security policies. There were many reports of “Zoombombing”, the process of hijacking a Zoom meeting and posting inappropriate content. This was possible due to Zoom’s lack of meeting security. Up until recently, there were no passwords or PINs required to access a meeting, meaning you could guess a meeting ID and end up in a random call with people you’d never met. This lack of additional verification meant that the meeting ID was all you needed. Ironically, even the UK Government almost got caught out, with a screenshot being spread online that contained one of their meeting IDs! An additional concern came with the news that on iOS devices, Zoom would pass on your data to Facebook (who are well known for their own privacy issues). This would happen even if you had neither a Facebook account or the app installed on your device.
In fairness to Zoom, they have made strides to rectify the issues to which they have been called out for. However, if it’s taken global scrutiny for them to amend potential security and privacy flaws, then how sure can we be in trusting them? And just because the government are using it, it doesn’t mean it’s the right system to use. Microsoft Teams is an alternative example that provides many of the features that Zoom does (including offering a free tier), yet is from a reliably tried and tested company in the form of Microsoft, who will provide products that prioritise security and reliability over vanity features. In addition, Teams features exceed meetings, providing a wide array of business centred tools.