File picture: Reuters/Loren Elliott
File picture: Reuters/Loren Elliott

Zoom raises encryption level with upgraded meeting app

By Supantha Mukherjee Time of article published Apr 22, 2020

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Zoom Video Communications Inc said on Wednesday it was upgrading the encryption features on its video conferencing app to better safeguard meeting data and offer protection against tampering.

The new version of the app, Zoom 5.0, will release within the week, the company said in a statement.

Zoom, which has soared to 200 million daily users from 10 million in less than three months, had faced backlash from users after security researchers found bugs in its codes and the company failing to disclose that its service was not end-to-end encrypted.

The app's issues, including "Zoombombing" incidents where uninvited guests crash meetings, led to several companies, schools and governments to stop using the platform.

The company, which competes with Microsoft Teams and Cisco's Webex has responded by plugging the gaps in security, launching a 90-day plan to improve the app and appointing former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos as an adviser.

Zoom said it has made several changes to its user interface, including offering password protection and giving more controls to meeting hosts to check unruly participants.

To account for criticism that the company had routed some data through Chinese servers, Zoom said an account admin can now choose data center regions for their meetings.

Zoom shares were up 3% at $147.35 in early trading. 

Some companies offer end-to-end encryption as an option but when it is enabled several features such as saving session data, call transcripts, call recording and calling from landlines are not supported.

Cisco, which says it had 324 million attendees in March, said its Webex sessions were encrypted.

"We don't go and take your data or transcribe what you are saying, and we don't sell your data to ad agencies. This is a proper tool for secure communication," said Cisco senior vice president Jonathan Davidson.

Microsoft Teams, with 44 millions users, and BlueJeans, which has 15,000 enterprise clients, also offer encryption options on their platforms.

Symphony Communication, a messaging service backed by big banks, is planning an early summer launch of a video conferencing platform featuring end-to-end encryption, Chief Executive Officer David Gurle said. 


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