As more people are now working from home due to the spread of the Coronavirus that’s has killed tens of thousands globally, remote work platforms like Zoom have now seen a major boost the number of users. Zoom had about 10 million daily active users back in December, 2019 but today it is reporting that it now has over 200 million daily active users. But it hasn’t been all rosy for them as more users mean more scrutiny because of sensitivity of data that is shared through their servers. Elon Musk for example pulled some of his company (SpaceX) operations from the company citing security concerns while others are sticking around but are now asking the California based group conferencing company to beef up security. One of SpaceX’s clients is NASA and since NASA doesn’t use Zoom, it makes sense for Elon Musk to limit the usage of the application. Frankly speaking even when the COVID-19 spread has been brought under control, many more people may choose to work remotely going forward even as analysts predict that this will change the face of work forever.
Facing a ton of criticism, the company announced in a blog post that it would now halt the development of new features in order to concentrate on security and other privacy issues plaguing its platform. The company’s chief executive Eric Yuan apologised for falling short on security and has promised to address this immediately while acknowledging that usage of his services has grown in way he would have never imagined.
“We did not design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying, and socialising from home,” he wrote.
“We now have a much broader set of users who are utilising our product in a myriad of unexpected ways presenting us with challenges we did not anticipate when the platform was conceived.”
Zoom has come under the hammer recently for a scope of privacy issues, including sending user information to Facebook in addition to wrongly stating that the application had end-to-end encryption and then allowing meeting hosts to track attendees among others.
Ex-NSA (National Security Agency) programmer Patrick Wardle who identified and reported some of these issues also discovered recently a flaw that left some vulnerable Mac users to have their webcams and mics taken over by bad actors.
Security consultant Graham Cluley told the BBC Zoom faced “a crisis”. “It risked losing a large amount of goodwill it had received because of revelations about its less-than-perfect attitude towards security and privacy.”
The fact that it was addressing some of the “alarming vulnerabilities” and had recognised the need to focus on security rather than “adding bells and whistles” was good news.
“Let’s hope that the company’s culture will change from its previous ‘fast and loose’ attitude when it comes to such concerns.
Government institutions have also jumped on the Zoom train lately and are being criticised for it.
Eric Yuan founded Zoom in 2011 and before then was the founder of WebEX back in 1995 which was sold to Cisco in 2007 in a $3.2b deal.