Zoom’s ‘demise’ and the lesson ‘free meals only in mouse traps’: Is trading privacy with a free app worth it?

Tram Ho

The article is the opinion of Brian X. Chen, editor of the New York Times.

Since we started working from home due to the Covid-19 translation, I’ve been invited to countless meetings and gatherings online on Zoom, the app that has been storming in recent times. However, I’m not too keen on this application for many reasons.

First, I understand why Zoom became so popular during a pandemic. The company designed the application based on two criteria that are free and extremely easy to use. Even technology blind people can join a meeting with just one click.

At present, Zoom has about 200 million users, an increase of 20 times compared to 10 million of the previous few months. Many of them use it for free, although Zoom has a paid version for those who need longer online meetings. It can be said that Zoom has helped us connect more easily with colleagues, relatives and friends in the current context.

But from last year, I was wary when Zoom constantly faced privacy issues. They happen so often that I think of the mouse-smashing game: This error is fixed, and another error arises.

One of them is a flaw that allows malware to attach to Zoom and hijack a user’s camera. Or recently it was a case where a troublemaker jumped into a meeting of strangers and spread unhealthy images.

After a series of scandals, from being hailed as an Internet “hero” during a pandemic, Zoom is now facing many difficulties due to users turning their backs: Google, SpaceX, and NASA have all banned employees from using Zoom. The governments of New York, California, Taiwan, Germany, and Singapore also imposed similar restrictions at organizations and schools in the country due to security concerns.

In a blog post, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan apologized for the incidents and said the vulnerabilities were being resolved. The company promised to focus on fixing privacy and security issues in the near future so that users can feel secure to use them.

I suddenly realized the lesson that “no meal is free, unless it’s in a rat trap”. When a company is unable to protect users’ privacy, we should not continue to support their products and encourage everyone to use it just because it is smooth and easy to use. Once we lose our privacy, we rarely regain it. If you continue to use Zoom, be careful and don’t forget to set the security settings carefully.

“When you give your data to a company, you won’t know if anyone else has access to them,” said Matthew Guariglia, policy analyst at a nonprofit digital rights organization. not because that happens a lot behind the tech companies’ black box. ”

Zoom’s privacy and security issues

This issue has two main ideas: Privacy policy and security structure of Zoom.

Zoom privacy policy

The company recently announced it has revised its privacy policy to make it more transparent to users. Accordingly, they have never sold user personal data to third parties and have absolutely no such plan.

However, the above policy does not make it clear whether Zoom will share data with third parties or not, while Apple or Cisco have stated this exactly in their privacy policy.

According to research published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), technology companies can monetize user data in many ways without having to sell them directly. Even sharing data for other companies to exploit information is profitable for them.

Lynn Haaland, the representative of Zoom’s global risk management office, said the company did not silently aggregate user data for sale or lease to third parties. So why isn’t this mentioned in terms of security? Haaland explained: “We are trying to clarify what we are doing with the data collected”.

Zoom security hole

While Zoom is struggling to fix security vulnerabilities, it has been discovered that Zoom and Windows versions of Zoom are less secure.

The main reason is that the company does not distribute the official application through Apple and Microsoft application store. Instead, users can download Zoom directly from the web browser. In this way, Zoom avoids strict controls and does not restrict access to the operating systems of the two companies. As a result, Zoom has deep access to the operating system and controls the web browser. This is why Zoom sessions are so simple to join.

 Sự sụp đổ của Zoom và bài học ‘bữa ăn miễn phí chỉ có trong bẫy chuột’: Đánh đổi quyền riêng tư bằng một ứng dụng free liệu có đáng? - Ảnh 3.

From being hailed as a “hero” in the pandemic, Zoom suddenly became a criminal because of the privacy issues of users.

Sinan Eren, CEO of Fyde, an application security company, said: “By circumventing less secure methods to install applications, Zoom has a weaker security structure.” Zoom declined to comment on the application’s security structure.

Privacy risk to use Zoom

For the time being, many of us have no better option than to use Zoom. So, here are some things to keep in mind:

Use Zoom with caution. In general, using Zoom on phones will be safer than computers. Mobile applications operate in a more restrictive environment with more limited access to your data. In addition, applications distributed through the App Store or Play Store have gone through security vulnerability testing.

Besides, make sure you have enabled Zoom’s privacy options like meeting password to prevent unwanted guests. Last but not least, consider introducing an app that has poor data security for people around you. If you must use it, minimize the use of Zoom to discuss sensitive issues such as trade secrets.

If you’re still concerned about Zoom’s privacy, try alternatives like Google Hangouts, Cisco Webex or FaceTime for Apple devices. These products may not be as easy to use as Zoom, but in return, they are more secure.

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Source : Genk