When the world found itself surrounded by the COVID19 pandemic, suddenly because of the social distance protocol people now don’t go to work and work from home. In all of these applications take off like a hurricane – ZOOM. The user’s daily active count changed from 10 million to 200 million in March represented a 20x jump. ZOOM assessment reached newer heights. It crashed $ 42 billion mark push it in front of unicorns like Uber and Airbnb which have been the darlings of silicon valleys in the past decade. But when this boom occurs, ZOOM may be the wrong tool for this job from the age of the home. ZOOM people for everything – live-streamed concerts, conference calls, public interpersonal video chats, online parties and more. But the reality is that there are safer options.
Apart from the real explosion caused by the work-from-home phenomenon, the reason for ZOOM’s bold growth is simple – people like its feature set, they find it easy to use aside from the small case that is free to use for most users.
- This allows 40-minute calls for up to 100 user meetings for free.
- Easy to use, even login is not required.
- It has a virtual background that covers up the fact you work from home.
- Easy to use for people who don’t have an application but only need to join a meeting by a third party through a web client.
- This allows users to record minutes of meetings with direct transcription that can be accessed.
- Like a virtual background, it also has features that do a virtual touch on your face with effects like filters. This can be useful if you just woke up and made a call.
- It also works well with third party services through its Zoom Marketplace which makes it more than a video conferencing application.
- It goes without saying that it is relatively fast and reliable as a video conferencing tool.
- It also has a feature that is useful for call moderators that lets them track how attentive people are in meetings using cameras and eye tracking.
Obviously, there are many things that happened, but at the same time, some of his strength also plays a role in the hacker’s hands which makes it a security nightmare for its users. Its exponential growth has also triggered a faster pace of innovation than its competitors funded by some of the biggest companies on the planet – including Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Cisco. It also helps that everyone sees a massive absorption in the user.
ZOOM has now become a privacy nightmare. The heart of the problem isn’t just because there is a sudden surge in users. Many problems can be rooted deeply in the ZOOM code base and attitude towards fixing this problem.
- Nothing can be described more than a New York Times article which details how ZOOM clients themselves fund hackers to find loopholes in it. The popular file sharing service Dropbox which is a ZOOM business client found that it was very vulnerable so that it could secretly allow user control based on MacOS.
- Dropbox, which also invested $ 5 million in the company, began funding hackers to find vulnerabilities in it. To his horror, he discovered a number of problematic security problems that were fixed by flagging taking more than 3 months to fix the problem after being defeated by hackers.
- Vice Motherboard is open something even more disturbing. The security bug broker sells access to ZOOM’s security flaws for $ 500,000 which potentially gives remote access to the user’s computer.
- The hacker has placed more than half a million usernames and passwords ZOOM users are ready for sale on the dark web. Needless to say how annoying this is for anyone who uses this service.
- There are many examples of attendees who were not invited to the meeting, a phenomenon that Zoombombing had created. ZOOM’s simplicity has made it a mature target for this because logins are not needed because potential people can jump into meetings using personal IDs when setting meeting-time IDs and waiting-room settings are not activated. The ability to join a call before the host also adds to this problem. In addition, like the social game application Houseparty, you also have to lock the meeting room so people can’t enter the virtual meeting room.
- Because ZOOM is exposing meeting IDs, it’s easy to screenshot the meeting IDs for that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed the details his government’s long distance calls using ZOOM on Twitter. ZOOM is moving to fix this problem.
- ZOOM’s impressive recording and transcription feature is a double-edged sword. If enabled in the account, the host can record a meeting along with text transcription with additional text files from all chats during that meeting. All of this is saved to the cloud which can be accessed by authorized users who may not even be part of the meeting.
- A Washington Post reports revealed that more than 15,000 ZOOM cloud recordings have been exposed on the web. This happened because of the way ZOOM named the file. Many of these have been posted to unprotected Amazon Web Services (AWS) buckets so they can be searched online.
- Until recently, the ZOOM iOS application (iPhone and iPad) used the Facebook graphics API which means that Facebook knows every time you open ZOOM, what device you are using, where you are, your telephone operator and unique advertising identifier. This can interfere with privacy that is aware especially if you are someone who is in an anti-Facebook camp.
- Recently, ZOOM has also come forward and acknowledged that it was diverted through several calls a server in China that shouldn’t happen. This happened in February as a result of trying to balance the sudden surge in traffic. ZOOM said that this is reducing this problem now by allowing users to select data center regions.
- The last but perhaps most disturbing thing is that even though ZOOM has been advertised as a truly end-to-end encrypted platform, it it was revealed that it wasn’t ’. ZOOM is moving fast towards end-to-end encryption.
For now ZOOM says that they are handling this problem. Founder and CEO Eric Yuan write a blog post that outlines that it stops all feature updates for now and refocuses the company’s energy on security for the next 90 days. However, that is also a symptom of the fact that the application is not designed for many use cases that are being called at this time. ZOOM recently hired a former Facebook Chief of Security Alex Stamos as a consultant who likens the ZOOM problem to the problem of people suddenly driving on water. Even so, ZOOM is banned on both sides.
- Google has banned ZOOM calls for internal or external work use. They see it as a security hazard despite the fact that the company is also behind fantastic video chat applications such as Google Meet and Duo. Apart from Google, even Amazon has restricted the use of ZOOM for non-essential work.
- The Indian government has sent advisors to oppose the use of ZOOM. The government has even launched a challenge for local developers to come up with alternatives.
- The New York Department of Education has made steps to stop teachers from using the application. Likewise, in Singapore, it has been banned for educational purposes.
- ZOOM has also been banned by German industrial giant, Siemens. Likewise, the large banks of Standard Chartered Bank have also banned the use of ZOOM.
- In the US, the FBI has also issued advisors on Zoombombing. The FBI cites these two examples in schools in Boston Massachusetts and also one in Florida. In one case, an uninvited participant showed himself in front of a class full of children, while in another case, one displayed a swastika tattoo and shouted obscenities.
- In the US, the Senate has also asked senators not to use ZOOM, while facing a new level of supervision. There is a call for FTC for concepts comprehensive guidelines for online conference services.
In the midst of all this, there are some amazing ZOOM alternatives. Heck, this isn’t even an alternative, this application is the default option for millions of people to suddenly become fashionable for ZOOM. It also helps that many of these applications have been made free for now because people work from home.
- Google Meet: For those who are accustomed to living in the Google application ecosystem, this might be the best solution. This can allow up to 25 people in one call that can be increased by more than 100 at the paid level. Simple – works on iOS, Android, Windows and the web, providing unlimited call times unlike the 40 minute limit on ZOOM for calls with more than 3 people. It also lacks advanced features such as background, online transcription or even a 49-person grid. But this will be the most useful and simplest solution for most people, especially if they use Gmail and Google Calendar. This is also a very safe solution because of its wide adoption not only in the consumer space but also companies and education.
- Microsoft Team: On paper, Microsoft Teams is Slack’s rival rather than ZOOM’s rival but the default video conferencing feature is based on Skype and Link technology. It’s a serious video conferencing game. First, Microsoft has made it free for 6 months because of the soaring use of services during the pandemic. In addition, this is designed for collaboration and security. This is a super application for work-from-home age. It can accommodate up to 250 participants, but currently only shows 4 user grids, even though an update is in progress that will improve it 9 while adding a virtual background. It also supports call recording, transcription, screen sharing and file sharing with deep integration into Microsoft Office. This is the most feature rich and varied solution. This works on iOS, Android, Windows and macOS.
- Skype: For most people, the Microsoft Team will be too complicated and feature-rich. For them, it is the original video chat application – Skype. Yes, Microsoft sure has messed it up because people rarely talk about Skype but it remains one of the best video conferencing applications. It allows up to 50 people in a call, has a free rate, remains simple enough to use while also having the ability to blur the background. It will work very well to connect with friends and family while available on Windows, iOS, Android and even the web. This is also useful for calls that don’t require complicated collaboration functions.
- What is wrong: Today the de facto video call application for most people is WhatsApp which is also the most popular messaging application on the planet. This doubles the ability of video calls to have 8 users immediately, but this remains a mobile-first experience for iPhone and Android without a PC interface. This will be used for the best private video calls.
- Facetime: For iOS and macOS users, there is already a free pre-built solution – Facetime which debuted a decade ago with the iPhone 4. Now supports up to 32 participants and supports Apple specific features such as Memoji. Again, this is more a personal communication tool than something that should be used for work, although it is very useful if collaboration tools are not needed and everyone uses Apple products.
Apart from these 5 applications – there is Google Duo which is one of the best personal video calling applications. For corporate users, there is Cisco WebEx which is a powerful solution.
This article first appeared on warpcore.live
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