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Zoom Tightens Security for Conferencing PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 18 May 2020 06:15

Wildly popular video conferencing provider Zoom is continuing to improve. Zoom has acquired security start-up Keybase, the first purchase in the company’s nine-year history.

With in-person deal-making off the table because of social distancing requirements, the negotiations took place over Zoom video calls. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

The acquisition of the 25-person start-up is the latest move in a 90-day plan that Zoom announced on April 1 to fix its security flaws. Zoom CEO Eric Yuan told CNBC the company needed a solution for users who are demanding the highest level of privacy and certainty that uninvited participants have no access to their conversations.

Addressing Issues

Zoom reached an agreement with New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office closing the state’s inquiry into its security practices without an admission of wrongdoing from the company.

“We are pleased to have reached a resolution with the New York Attorney General, which recognizes the substantial work that Zoom has completed as part of our 90-day security and privacy plan, including making a number of our pre-existing security features on by default and also introducing new security enhancements,” a Zoom spokesperson said in a statement. “We are grateful for the New York Attorney General’s engagement on these important issues and are glad to have reached this resolution so quickly.”

The agreement comes one day after the New York City Department of Education lifted its ban on Zoom after working with the company to ensure the proper safety features were in place. Taken together, the deals put momentum behind Zoom’s 90-day plan announced April 1 to fix its security flaws and could help it regain consumer confidence in its product after a shaky couple of months.

Some of the abuse resulted from open features that Zoom had in place to aid its rapid growth. Users were able to join conversations with the click of a link, for example, which worked fine when they were shared mainly with coworkers, but less so when they were used to invite large groups of strangers to chats. The NYC DOE is requiring students and teachers to use a DOE-licensed version of the program, which includes certain protections, such as only allowing teachers to share screens or invite students to sessions.

The attorney general’s agreement also includes protections for students. All free kindergarten through 12th grade education accounts will have to allow hosts to control access to conferences with a password or digital waiting room. They also must be able to control access to private messages, email domains and whether participants can share screens, according to the agreement.

Many of the measures Zoom agreed to implement have already been completed or planned for. Zoom agreed, for example, to stop sharing user data with Facebook and disable a feature with LinkedIn that shares profiles of users with other users even if they chose to be anonymous. The company already removed code from its iOS app that sent data to Facebook, Motherboard reported in March.

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