Should you be using the video-conferencing app Zoom?

Written By: Ankit Tuteja
Noida Updated: Apr 20, 2020, 09:53 PM(IST)

File photo Photograph:( AFP )

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There are many questions surrounding the controversial app, and here are the answers:

If there is one app that has shot to fame during the lockdown period, it’s the video-conferencing app zoom. By now, many of you must be using the app for professional or personal reasons. Not just adults, even school children in various countries are using it for their online classes. While the app is becoming popular, it’s also receiving a lot of flak. There are many questions surrounding the controversial app, and here are the answers:

Why are so many people using Zoom app for video calls?
During the lockdown period, video calls have increased on all messaging platforms including Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts, but Zoom has turned out to be a star. The reason behind its growing popularity is simple. It’s easy to use and free for a fair amount of time. Most importantly, it can accommodate a large number of people at a time. It lets as many as 100 people simultaneously attend a video-conference and allows 40 minutes of free time. In fact, Zoom has lifted the 40-minute limit on free accounts for teachers in many countries. The cherry on top is its interesting interface. One of the zoom settings allows users to change the backdrop image, which means user can hide what’s really behind them.
What’s wrong with Zoom app?
Now that the app is being heavily used and offering users a lot of interesting features, what could possibly be wrong with it? Why are users worldwide criticising it? It’s not too tough to guess the reason. The app is being slammed over security and privacy issues.

Firstly, Zoom isn’t fully end-to-end encrypted, which means the shared content is not protected between users. Third parties such as the company itself may have access to it. It’s a little strange to not have a fully encrypted service in times when old products like Whatsapp and Facetime are offering end-to-end encryption.

Secondly, many users have complained of hacking attempts during the ongoing sessions. Miscreants have intruded the livestreams, showed obscene images and made lewd remarks. This act of hijacking meetings on Zoom is also referred to as zoombombing. In other words, “Zoombombing” is when uninvited participants interrupt a video meeting and try to derail it.

The concerns around the app are so severe that Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Google have even banned their employees from using the app.

WATCH: Zoom app: Should you be using it?

Should you use the Zoom app? 

Now comes the next important question - if there are security-related issues with the app, should you still be using it?
It’s true that Zoom has addressed vulnerabilities in the app and apologised for its security lapses. The company, in fact, says it will continue to take stringent measures to make the service more secure. Whatever said and done, if you still need to use the app then here are some best practices so that you are not hacked during zoom meetings.
1. Share your meeting IDs carefully. Never post them on social media where everyone can see it.
2. Make your meetings password protected. it will prevent unwanted attendees from breaking into livestreams
3. Hosts can decide that no one joins a meeting before them
4. Lock your meetings once everyone has joined. Once done, no other person can then be part of the meeting.
5. Turn off screen sharing for participants. It will help stop would-be hackers from showing offensive content during meetings.
All in all, follow these best practices and be careful. But if you don’t want to use zoom anymore, note that there are other alternatives too - such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, Facebook  Messenger, Google Duo and Facetime for Apple users. You can figure out your needs and accordingly pick one of them.

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