Is Zoom safe?

Apr 2, 2020

Our Managing Director, Mark Ternent, answers a client question…

Hi Mark,

Just a question.  We use Zoom and find it good for small and large meetings.

However whilst our international body (****) also uses Zoom they have said that Zoom is not as secure as other platforms.  They use Go To Meetings, which is also good though clunky.

Do you know anything about any potential security issues?

I also heard Simon Bridges today querying the meeting of Cabinet by Zoom due to security concerns.


Hi xxxx,

Zoom has taken off, as you would expect, and with that has come attention not just from users like you and me, but also from unwanted people. I have read about hackers getting into Zoom meetings and taking them over (hate speech, porno images, etc) and there is certainly plenty of press about it. Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire, but also it may be in part something that has caught the attention because of the huge uptake in usage. I also see information about Zoom’s efforts to ensure their product is safe – I am sure that being able to 1) handle the volume and 2) ensuring security flaws do not kill their golden opportunity, are Zoom’s two top strategic focus areas at present!

I know that our clients who do external video conferencing almost to a person prefer Zoom over anything else. I have used GoToMeeting (as attendee) a lot but have watched in last few years as it has been overtaken for usability and popularity by Zoom.

I heard Simon Bridges comment and I think it was based in part on the default for Zoom often being that passwords are not required to enter meetings and perhaps other settings too. That is much of the real risk may be from user’s usage, rather than the integrity of the product per se. 

Interestingly, I have had no clients with issues, and nor have any of my IT colleagues (and I am in regular touch with owners up and down the country).

To stay grounded, I think it also important to ask what is the risk (damage if it happens, likelihood of it happening) being talked about when people say Zoom is not as secure as other platforms? At one end there’s lost military or cabinet secrets, or IP theft and perhaps at the other end there is nuisance. Likelihood? Quite low for most kiwis SMEs I’d suggest.

Interestingly also, I would say without any doubt in my mind that a far bigger risk is the security of the machines and connections used by people remote working or working from home. People accessing meetings, documents, email, etc, from computers with poor security, no firewalls, etc. The effects of this I do see close up with scary frequency, yet people still tend to be unconcerned about it. So yes, people are commenting on Zoom security, but it’s not the real security threat. https://www.gtb.co.nz/cyber-crime-in-2020-what-you-need-to-know/

Incidentally, my next email to clients / GTB blog entry will likely be about the security risks of home/remote working. As above, people have jumped at home working, with scarce a thought to what they are opening up for attack.

Finally, your usage of Zoom in an organisation with frequent international connections is not the same as most of our other clients. Therefore, I suspect you face a higher threat than many of our other clients. I would suggest someone checks the settings you all use for Zoom as users often just accept defaults.

Very best,

Mark

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