Zoom Shifts Focus to Security, Privacy Issues Amid Flood of New Users

The videoconferencing platform was not designed with the foresight that every person in the world would suddenly be homebound. With a very broad set of users utilizing the product in unexpected ways, the company has shifted all of its engineering resources to focus on its biggest trust, safety, and privacy issues, the company's CEO says.

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Admitting that videoconferencing platform Zoom has fallen short of the online community’s security and privacy expectations, the company's CEO said that Zoom has stopped deploying new features and is focusing on proactively addressing and fixing the various issues.  

Eric Yuan pointed out in an April 1 blog post that the platform was built primarily for enterprise customers, namely large institutions with full IT support. At the end of December 2019, there were approximately 10 million daily meeting participants, but as of March the number exceeded 200 million, he said.

"We did not design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying, and socializing from home. We now have a much broader set of users who are utilizing our product in a myriad of unexpected ways, presenting us with challenges we did not anticipate when the platform was conceived," he stated.

Yuan said the company has endeavored to ensure platform privacy, security and safety, while providing a user-friendly experience and uninterrupted service. "However, we recognize that we have fallen short of the community’s – and our own – privacy and security expectations. For that, I am deeply sorry, and I want to share what we are doing about it."

According to the CEO, Zoom has enacted a feature freeze and shifted all of its engineering resources to focus on its biggest trust, safety, and privacy issues. He said the company is "conducting a comprehensive review with third-party experts and representative users to understand and ensure the security of all of our new consumer use cases."

He also addressed the recent phenomenon of "Zoombombing" or hijacking of video teleconferencing to harass participants. "We absolutely condemn these types of attacks and deeply feel for anyone whose meeting has been interrupted in this way." He said the company has clarified the various features that can prevent it.

The company has been offering tutorials, training sessions and free interactive daily webinars to assist users, and is working to actively and quickly address specific issues and questions, according to the CEO.

He also said the company has updated its privacy policy to clarify that it does not sell user data, has never sold user data and has no intention doing so in the future.

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