Zoom, the videoconferencing service, has seen a recent usage surge because of the Coronavirus pandemic. The outbreak has caused many people to work from home and Zoom has allowed companies, as well as friends and family members, stay connected while people are asked to remain indoors. While the service has done its part to keep people connected, some recent missteps have led some to ask if Zoom is safe to use, TechCrunch reports.
Multiple reports say Zoom has put users’ info at risk
The Intercept recently reported that Zoom video calls were not encrypted from beginning to end, despite the company’s claims that they were. Meanwhile, Motherboard reported Zoom leaked “at least a few thousand” users’ emails because personal addresses were treated as work addresses.
Last year, TechCrunch reported Apple had to step in to secure millions of Mac computers because it was discovered Zoom didn’t disclose it installed a secret web server on users’ devices. Zoom didn’t remove the server after the client was no longer installed. According to the researcher who made the discovery, that web server made it possible for any malicious website to activate the Mac’s webcam with Zoom installed—without the user’s permission.
User tracking is another issue
Motherboard also reported that Zoom was sending its users habits to Facebook, whether the user had a Facebook account or not. The company’s iOS app would let Facebook know when a user opened Zoom app, the device model, the carrier they opened the Zoom app with and more. Zoom eventually removed the code, but not before a class action lawsuit was filed or New York’s attorney general opened an investigation.
The company also ran into trouble because of its attendee tracking feature that lets Zoom meeting hosts see if participants are clicking away from the primary Zoom window during a call, according to The Huffington Post.
Not all is bad with Zoom
Fortunately, users can join a Zoom video call without having to download or use the company’s app, TechCrunch reports. Zoom’s “dark patterns” don’t make it easy to initiate a video call with just a user’s browser, however. Zoom also remains easy to use, reliable and convenient, but some of its claims have given its users a false sense of security and privacy—something every user deserves.
While Zoom has made it easier for everyone to stay in contact during this health crisis, it carries the same burden as any technology that can access user information—it should be used at our own risk.