Zoom is seeing an explosion in popularity. In 2020 thus far, we have seen massive growth in the online video-conferencing tool. Google Trend analytics can help us understand the scale of Zoom’s meteoric rise. Interest in the brand grew by 1900% in April 2020 as opposed to February of the same year.
Zoom has become one of these most-used pieces of software on the planet. In December 2019, the company recorded ten million calls per day through the service. As of April 2020, that number is 200,000 million.
It goes without saying that many people are using Zoom. It’s the go-to conference system for businesses across the world, and also a very popular platform for private calls.
Convenience is the key ingredient in Zoom’s success. Where other video-conference platforms often require sign ups, Zoom capitalised on a market of accessibility by making it incredibly easy for individuals to join a call without hassle. The host of the call requires an account, but viewers do not. A hyperlink join system allows people to enter conferences very easily and quickly. They can opt to launch from the app or view via a browser. The Zoom service is very organised and simple, which is great for arranging large meetings without concern for those lacking IT skills. Connectivity and quality are also high, which leaves people satisfied with calls and ready to use the service again.
Other systems offer this, but Zoom was one of the industry pioneers. The result is that early adopters used word of mouth to spread the popularity of Zoom. It’s not unique in its offerings anymore, but it laid the foundations early, allowing it to take pole position in 2020.
“Is Zoom safe” is a commonly searched phrase. Consumers are apprehensive about using Zoom software for fear of security issues. The concerns come from legitimate thought processes.
Zoom’s convenience is unusual in 21st-century technology. In a world of high-security, major data threats, and constant reminders of a need to protect our online rights and privacy, it seems odd such an open video-conferencing tool is available.
Unfortunately, while you’d expect these fears to be rational but unfounded due to measures taken by Zoom to secure their software, this is not the case. While Zoom is certainly a trustworthy business in itself, the Zoom software does have some very major vulnerabilities that compromise its safety.
This news will be of particular concern to businesses that use the platform for meetings that involve the sharing of data. Put simply, Zoom is not secure enough to provide the protection you need to avoid problems such as non-compliance with GDPR.
The openness of Zoom — the convenience of the product — has led to its undoing. The big security problems of Zoom were laid bare in April 2020, when 500,000 hacked user account details were sold on the dark web.
This issue increased already mounting problems with the Zoom service.
It was highlighted by security experts that Zoom does not feature end-to-end call encryption, despite the fact the company has claimed in the past that it does. End-to-end encryption means data transmitted during a call is protected by encryption at all times, but this is not the case for Zoom. There are times when data is not actually encrypted, such as if you were to join a call via cellular data. Zoom, as the provider of your call, also possesses the ability to decrypt your call’s data and access it, which means a breach at Zoom would leave your information vulnerable. Given that half-a-million account details were recently stolen, there is reason to be concerned about this possibility.
Another very real vulnerability is the threat of Zoombombing. Zoom operates by setting up meeting room IDs that you join via a hyperlink. Again, all part of the accessibility of the platform. The problem is that hackers and cybercriminals have figured out how to join live calls. All they have to do is work out what your Zoom link is and they can enter your conference. Using stolen IDs, they can also ensure these aren't random guesses either, and so can target specific organisations.
Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Zoom issues. Reports have circulated of malware programs that can record conversations and text messages without detection, and that hackers can access previously run meeting recordings archived in Zoom cloud software.
In a summary of Zoom vulnerabilities, Patrick Wardle, a former National Security Agency employee, stated: "Though Zoom is incredibly popular, it has a rather dismal security and privacy track record."
Many, many businesses are using Zoom. It’s massive. Even the British government is convening cabinet meetings through Zoom — despite criticism from security experts who cite the major flaws outlined above.
The problem we have here is each issue combined creates a major risk to data protection and data security. The current digital era has put data protection under the spotlight. We’ve seen businesses under fire for data breaches, huge fines imposed for non-compliance, and the introduction of the GDPR — the most complex set of data protection laws to date.
Now is not the time for any business to risk data security, but that is exactly what Zoom does.
For business catch-ups and casual conversations between employees, Zoom is convenient. However, the moment sensitive data comes into play — from discussing client information to sharing internal documents either through chat or via screen sharing — the platform goes from a quick way to chat to a risky practice that could result in data breaches.
The sale of those 500,000 accounts on the dark web is perhaps the biggest worry. These are just the compromised accounts we know of. If any of your business accounts are amongst them — or any other hacked accounts — it gives hackers easy access to your meetings. In an article published on Mashable, the security research lead Dov Lerner at Sixgill — an organisation that monitors the dark web — said, “These credentials could [sic] be used for corporate or personal eavesdropping, identity theft, and other nefarious actions. There's a number of ways a malicious actor could use these stolen accounts.”
However you frame it, Zoom is creating problems for your business.
The utility of Zoom is difficult to ignore. It’s become so immensely popular because it is so immensely useful. We understand that advising all businesses stay away from Zoom is going to prove challenging — and most likely impossible. The software has become integrated into many different operations. During 2020, with such economic turbulence and business unrest, now is not the time for businesses to consider changing their entire modus operandi for online conferencing.
Instead, we’re offering a suggestion that allows you to keep using Zoom while better protecting your data. We’re suggesting you incorporate eFax into your meeting strategies to improve data security.
How would this work?
eFax is a tool that allows you to send and receive digital fax documents over the internet using mobile phone apps or your web browser. It’s a great way to share visual data and files quickly. It’s also secure. Our platform has high-level encryption and features a range of access controls. It keeps documents away from prying eyes.
You can use eFax to transmit documents containing sensitive company or personal information without having to share them through your Zoom meetings. Everyone gets to see what they need to, but the document itself is not exposed to the risky practices related to Zoom conference calls.
With eFax working in conjunction with Zoom, you get the best of both worlds. A popular and accessible video-conference platform familiar to both staff and clients, and a data-sharing tool that enables safe and secure document transmission.
During the era of Zoom and remote working, integrating eFax into your business communication structure can have a few other important benefits. These include:
What if you are in a position to move away from Zoom? You may have the flexibility to look into new platforms, or you may be considering solutions for future strategy once you are in a more stable position.
At eFax, we’re a part of J2 Global, who also provide a service called eVoice Meet. This is a very similar platform to Zoom, but it features more advanced security protocols for enhanced information safety. As a major international brand with a vital connection to the European market, J2 Global products are focused on ensuring maximum data security to support GDPR compliance.
eVoice Meet also doesn’t have the notoriety of Zoom, which makes it a much less appealing target for hackers. Since it doesn’t have the same enormous user base, taking the time to understand the methods of infiltration is far less appealing for cyber criminals. In short, you can paint a smaller target on your back and make it more difficult for hackers to obtain your data through hijacking video conferencing. It’s the same reason nobody built malicious virus software for early Mac computers. The money was in Microsoft, so Mac users were protected by anonymity.
This is not to say the smaller user base of eVoice Meet means it is inferior software. Far from it. Independent comparisons actually show us that both software is very nearly identical in terms of functionality. Both have a few minor unique features, but in general, they offer exactly what you need.
eVoice Meet though, is just much more secure.
Outside of eVoice Meet, another recommendation we have is Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts has some disadvantages, it must be admitted. Google has its privacy controversy, which in turn leads to concerns over the software’s lack of end-to-end encryption, similar to Zoom. If you can look past that, however, and put your faith in Google to secure your data, the brand does have a great security track record. Despite being one of the largest digital companies in business today, it has never seen a compromise of data so big as Zooms, or like rivals Yahoo. This lack of external infiltration keeps a lot of your private data safe and minimises risk.
Both eVoice Meet and Google Hangouts, like Zoom, are super convenient. You share meetings via a simple hyperlink and can have many individuals attend a call. All three platforms have scalable payment structures starting from free systems for small-scale business calls right the way to premium accounts for larger enterprises.
When looking to remove Zoom vulnerabilities and replace your video conferencing software, you do certainly have options that are not only more secure, but also just as useful for your business.
eFax has all the tools you need to secure better communication during these unprecedented times of remote-working. Sign up today to access all the powerful features our solutions have to offer.