Zoom Faces Criticism
Zoom Video Communications, which provides software for video conferencing and online meetings, has followed the tech startup playbook to a T. The company was founded in 2011 by Eric Yuan, a former lead engineer at Cisco Systems.
Zoom's usage took off immediately. It quickly surpassed milestones such as 1 million users, then 10 million users and so on. Zoom attracted funding from some of the most well-known venture capital firms, reaching "unicorn" status in January 2017 when its valuation reached $1 billion.
In April 2019, Zoom went public. Shares jumped more than 70% on the first day of trading, giving Zoom a valuation of nearly $16 billion.
When the outbreak of COVID-19 started gaining steam, causing millions of people to begin working from home, Zoom's usage and share price took off. Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan said the company saw usage jump to 200 million users per day in March from about 10 million users per day in December.
At its high two weeks ago, shares of Zoom had gained nearly 150% for the year. As usage and Zoom's share price surged, questions about the company's security began to surface.
A bug was found that enabled hackers to insert links in the chat feature that could be used to steal Windows credentials and launch programs on the user's computer. Zoom has since fixed this issue.
There's also been a spike in new Zoom domains as cyber criminals try to use phishing scams to steal personal information. Check Point researchers said nearly 2,000 Zoom domains had been created since January.
"This increase means that hackers have taken notice of the work-from-home paradigm shift that Covid-19 has forced, and are seeing it as an opportunity to deceive, lure and exploit people," said Omer Dembinsky, manager of cyber research at Check Point.
Zoom also faced criticism after researchers found the company routes calls through China. The researchers noted Zoom is "not suited for secrets" and that the company could be forced to hand over data to Chinese authorities.
Amid the increased use of Zoom has come "Zoombombing," which is when uninvited guests jump into users' calls. The rise of these "hijackings" even prompted the FBI to issue a statement saying "The FBI has received multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language."
The issues have already caused multiple state attorneys general to look into Zoom's privacy and security practices. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking them to look into the company for "deceptive" security claims.
School districts such as Nevada's Clark County Public Schools and New York City's Department of Education have already banned the use of Zoom.
"Providing a safe and secure remote learning experience for our students is essential, and upon further review of security concerns, schools should move away from using Zoom as soon as possible," said a spokesperson for the New York City Department of Education.
As shares of Zoom have fallen nearly 30% since last month's high as security and privacy issues pile up, the company now has prove to its users it can be trusted.
"We moved too fast... and we had some missteps," Yuan said. "I really messed up."
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