Zoom – The Rise and Fall of the Video Conferencing Giant

Amidst the COVID pandemic, Zoom is one of the very few companies whose stock did not plummet or suffer serious financial turmoil. Instead the video conferencing company has experienced a massive surge of users in the past few months. With over 100 million new users since April, Zoom has gained a lot of traction in several countries where it wouldn’t normally garner much attention. It in fact did so well that it caught the attention of Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg who wanted to have a bite out of the video conferencing’s market share. The $40 billion valuation of Zoom ensures that it is financially stable.

However, the recent development is that multiple governments all over the world have either issued warnings about the safety of the app. Several other countries have also expressed concern about the security of the application. Germany, Singapore and Taiwan have already banned the application.

The Cyber Coordination Centre (CyCord) of India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) stated in a 16-page advisory that Zoom was not a safe platform and government officials were not to use the platform for any government purposes. The government’s warning came after India's nodal cyber security agency – Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT-in) - cautioned against the vulnerability of the app. The agency pointed out that the app has significant weaknesses which can make users vulnerable to cyber-attacks, including leakage of sensitive office information to criminals. Several companies including Google, Apple, NASA, and Tesla have urged — or warned — their employees from using Zoom, which has amassed over 200 million users globally.

Now the most important issue that comes to our mind is what exactly is the issue of data privacy violation claims around Zoom. The world at large has had to familiarize themselves with a plethora of new terms over the past few weeks, the latest being ‘Zoombombings’.

In essence, Zoombombing is a Zoom security breach when an uninvited individual joins an ongoing meeting. While this Zoom video call security issue is attributed to a misuse of public links rather than an internal flaw, it spells trouble for meetings involving confidential data. Zoombombing has also been used as a way to insult participants or share pornographic or graphic images and video.

Those hosting public webinars or events usually share public Zoom links; however, careless handling of these links can allow just about anyone in the world to gain access. It has also been reported that public Zoom links appear in search results. The company has rolled out security measures that apply to all Zoom links; however, netizens have taken to sharing extra setting changes to take matters into their own hands.

A hiccup in Zoom’s Company Directory setting has caused thousands of email ID’s and photographs to be leaked and made accessible to strangers. According to VICE, the setting automatically adds same-domain emails to the same company. For the thousands who signed up with personal email IDs, this meant their email ID and photos were shared with random strangers who used the same email provider. Strangers were even able to video call them, although recipients would first have to accept the invitation to call.

So that is where Zoom stands at the moment. With unprecedented growth , the platform’s stock price has skyrocketed, however with Facebook launching its own video conferencing platforms called Messenger Rooms, Zoom’s stock price dropped over 6% in the past 24 hours.

Facebook’s Messenger Rooms will allow its users to host a meeting with up to 50 people at once with no time limit, Zuckerberg said in a video announcement. (Zoom's free version allows up to 100 people together, but for a maximum of 40 minutes.) Facebook users can invite people to Messenger Rooms even if they don't have Facebook accounts.

The future of Zoom seems to be unstable at the moment irrespective of the fact that its stock prices are the highest in the past 52 weeks and has garnered millions of users all over the world. It faces thousands of potential lawsuits by enraged users who have faced numerous instances of data privacy violations and Zoom continues to lose confidence amongst its massive user base due to damning accusations that Zoom faces on a daily basis.

Author: Karna K

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