From 10 million users in December 2019, Zoom shot up to 200 million users in March, credited to the lockdown incited by the pandemic.
Despite this surge, the app has several security issues, said Sai Krishna, chairman, Global Cyber Security Forum.
The issues with this app were discovered by outside hackers, who found lines of vulnerable code in the service’s server. These vulnerabilities can be sold in the Dark Web for anywhere between $5,000 to $30,000, and hackers can use them to access video conferences hosted by the service.
“Additionally, the founder of the company had apologised recently as they had hosted their server in China, where all of their data must be revealed to the Chinese government, and this would, of course, include certain sensitive information,” he said. Additionally, it was reported that Zoom was using spurious functions to remotely access the camera functions in the app, and was offering user information to websites like Facebook.
However, children using the app are not too bothered by these issues. “I have installed an anti-virus software on my computer. It runs daily checks and cleanings, and so I am not worried about any remote access to my computer,” said Sai Vignesh, a Class 6 student who uses Zoom to attend classes.
However, Krishna explained that the vulnerabilities were in Zoom server’s coding, and since the video conferences were being hosted on their server, no amount of anti-virus or security apps could help keep their information safe. Once hackers take access to the laptop’s camera, they could record video footage and use it for unscrupulous ends, he added.
Teachers, on the other hand, are still attempting to grapple with the change in their workplace. “We went from seeing our students in classrooms to online. It is difficult enough to try to use the apps, and now there are safety issues too. I’m not sure how to fix them, and I’m just hoping we can get back to classrooms as soon as possible,” said a Class 8 teacher in a reputed private school in the city.
On April 11, the Singapore government banned the usage of Zoom after reports of hackers entering video conferences with underage students and posting obscene pictures. According to Krishna, this might be the best course of action that must be taken up by the Government to safeguard users.
“Additionally, we should promote homegrown software companies to ensure of safer servers,” he said.