As lockdown leaves many offices empty across the country, colleagues can no longer slip into a meeting room for a private chat, but must place their trust in video conferencing to preserve confidentiality. Unfortunately, the most popular platform Zoom has suffered dozens of security problems – including exploits like “Zoombombing” where strangers barge into unprotected calls.
In a bid to boost defences, Zoom is acquiring Keybase – an end-to-end encryption and secure messaging platform. The team will play a key role in Zoom’s 90-day plan to boost security, alongside former national security adviser H.R. McMaster who has been hired as an independent director.
The new and improved Zoom will implement a new privacy architecture for what promises to be the “most broadly used enterprise end-to-end encryption offering” allowing anyone that schedules a meeting to opt for end-to-end encryption:
“Our goal is to provide the most privacy possible for every user case, while also balancing the needs of our users and our commitment to preventing harmful behavior on our platform,” said CEO Eric Yuan in a statement. “Keybase’s experienced team will be a key part of this mission.”
Fully encrypted, Zoom should be able to brush off challenges from rival platforms like Microsoft Teams, Cambridge-based video conferencing provider Starleaf, and California-based video conference platform BlueJeans that was acquired by Verizon in mid-April. This deal is thought to have been expedited by the onset of the pandemic, which created a dramatic jump in usage as companies sent their employees to work from home
The privacy concerns that make secure video conferencing platforms appealing have been steadily rising on the agenda since computers first entered the workplace. But coronavirus has raised the stakes, piling the pressure on Zoom and its rivals to quickly step up security.
With governments now tracking phones to limit the spread of the virus, coronavirus email scams skyrocketing, and fresh vulnerabilities being exposed in trusted software, maintaining digital hygiene is becoming as much of a priority as regular hand washing – and we could see a broader pivot towards encrypted communications as a result.