With millions of people self-isolating around the world, video chat services have become very popular, but do they pose a risk to our privacy and security? SpaceX thinks so, as it just banned the use of Zoom by all employees.
As Reuters reports, on March 28 SpaceX sent out an email to all of its 6,000+ employees telling them access to the Zoom video chat service had been disabled. The email stated, “We understand that many of us were using this tool for conferences and meeting support … Please use email, text or phone as alternate means of communication.” The stated reason given for disabling access to the service is, “significant privacy and security concerns.”
Zoom has proved to be one of the most popular video chat options since the coronavirus pandemic took hold globally, but criticism of the service is growing. As far back as July last year, Zoom was being abused by hackers to spy on Mac users via their webcams. More recently, Zoom-bombing has become rife, with individuals not invited or welcome on a Zoom call joining and in some cases sharing inappropriate content with attendees. A group of pranksters was even organizing Zoom-bombs in a bid to raid online classes, record the disruption, and share the footage on YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch. The situation is bad enough that even the FBI is warning the public to watch out for Zoom chat hijackers.
SpaceX’s concerns over the security and privacy of the service are well-founded. Yesterday, Zoom apologized in a blog post for, “the confusion we have caused by incorrectly suggesting that Zoom meetings were capable of using end-to-end encryption … While we never intended to deceive any of our customers, we recognize that there is a discrepancy between the commonly accepted definition of end-to-end encryption and how we were using it.”
Businesses or individuals concerned about continuing to use Zoom do have quite a few alternatives worth considering. Microsoft Teams is proving very popular, there’s also Skype, Google Duo, and a range of devices with video chat offered as a standard feature such as Facebook Portal and Amazon’s Echo Show.