Zoom Agrees to Get its Security Act Together

The popular video chat platform agrees to NY AG security terms

Zoom's agreement with the NY Attorney General and recent purchase of a security technology company holds out the hope of a much more secure and private Zoom video conferencing experience.

Zoom call
Zoom call. Getty Images

Zoom is getting serious about security. The video chat company reached an agreement with New York State Attorney General Letitia James that calls for, among other things, Zoom to quickly address a variety of data, privacy, and security issues, including Zoombombing.

A brief history of Zoom: Founded almost a decade ago, the video conferencing company rocketed into public consciousness and popularity as millions of people were suddenly forced by the COVID-19 pandemic to work from home and needed an easy-to-use tool to stay connected with friends, family, and the office. Just as we were all falling in love with Zoom's tools and quirks, people discovered disturbing security and privacy holes and reported random people dropping into their Zoom meetings. Zoom was soon facing legal action from a variety of sources.

Zoom's Response: To its credit, Zoom's been working ever since to update both the clarity of its terms of serves and, more importantly, the technology itself. The NY AG also reported that Zoom cooperated from the start with its investigation into the company's technology and practices.

What will Zoom do: As part of the agreement with NY, which appears to have implications for Zoom users everywhere, Zoom will make a number of tech, process, and policy changes. Some promises like updating its "Acceptable Use Policy," and complying with the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (which, among other things, provides specific protections for children under 13) are obvious and probably easy to implement. It will also apply more stringent privacy and security controls to free and education (K-12) accounts, including waiting rooms and requiring a password. Those two changes could help curtail Zoombombing incidents.

Locking it down: At the same time Zoom signed off on the NY AG agreement, it completed acquisition of a company called Keybase, which should help it bring end-to-end encryption to the platform. As part of the deal, Keybase's co-founder Max Krohn becomes Zoom's Head of Security, a role that Zoom promised to fill as part of the NY AG agreement. It's like a perfect security circle, right?

Bottom line: States around the U.S. are slowly reopening, but millions will likely continue to work from home, This agreement may mean they can keep using their go-to video conferencing platform with confidence.

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