Zoom Will Introduce End-to-End Encryption, With A Caveat

Zoom is one of the very few tech companies to have benefited from the COVID-19. Its rise in popularity has been followed by scrutiny over security and privacy concerns. In the company’s latest blog post, its CEO Eric Yuan has confirmed the acquisition of Keybase, which specializes in building secure messaging and encryption. He also mentioned Zoom will soon offer end-to-end encryption.

An investigation by The Intercept found Zoom was not using end-to-end encryption and all the call data was being sent back to the company. With this acquisition, Zoom will finally be able to offer end-to-end encrypted meetings for its users. This new end-to-end encryption technology is great for hosts who prioritize privacy over compatibility. It will also be limited only to paying customers.

End-to-end encryption will be a paid feature

The end-to-end encryption will not support phone bridges, cloud recording, or non-Zoom conference rooms. However, Zoom Rooms and Zoom Phone participants can still attend if explicitly allowed by the host. Even the encryption keys will be controlled solely by the host. The company also says it will provide better security than other end-to-end encrypted messaging platforms.

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To remain transparent and open, Zoom is planning to publish a detailed draft cryptographic design on May 22nd. Zoom currently uses AES-GCM to encrypt audio and video content between its 300 million daily meeting participants. Back in December 2019, this number was just 10 million.

Zoom will never decrypt calls for lawful intercept purposes.

Zoom also confirmed it will not provide decryption for lawful intercept purposes. Apart from offering end-to-end encryption, Zoom also has to offer better security. In March, Zoom’s iOS app was found to be sending user analytics data to Facebook. Even a class action lawsuit was filed in a California court against the company. There have been several incidents where hackers were able to break into meetings.

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Along with the scrutiny from the government, Zoom has also had to deal with competition from tech giants like Google and Microsoft. Google Meet, the video conferencing platform from Google, was recently made available free to everyone. It is now even integrated into Gmail, making it easy to access for all of its 1.5 billion-plus user base.

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After the recent Zoom 5.0 update, the company stopped routing meetings made outside of China to Chinese servers. The paid users also get option to choose the location of the server to route their meetings. In the coming days, the company will be adding even more feature to address the privacy concerns.


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