By Matthew Richard
With the Corona Virus pandemic taking the world by storm it is no secret that our way of life has been changed dramatically. In these unforeseen times there have been a lot of change that we have all had to adapt to. One dramatic change is the way that we socialize with one another. No longer is it safe for us to meet in person or in large groups. As a result of this we now have had to rely on technology to communicate and meet with one another. The platform that seems to be benefiting the most and has quickly become part of our every day life is Zoom. Zoom allows for groups of people to video chat with one another and has been adopted by Universities, Schools, Businesses, and the like. Prior to the pandemic it seems that very few people even knew what Zoom was or had even heard of it. Now, millions are relying on it to go about their everyday lives. Even British Prime minister Boris Johnston used the platform to host the countries first virtual cabinet meeting. The company has stated that 200 million people have used the app in March up from 10 million people who had used the app in December. There is no question that Zoom has experienced a rapid amount of growth in such a short period of time. However, the concern is that Zoom may not have been as well prepared for this type of usage this fast. The other concern is that Schools, Businesses, and Universities are not familiar enough with the platform to use it in a secure manner
What seems to have started off as a joke where internet pranksters would join a college zoom class meeting and make a scene or ask a silly question has quickly turned into a very serious problem. This act of unwanted users joining a Zoom meeting is now referred to as “Zoom Bombing”. On March 30th the FBI issued a warning regarding the Zoom platform and these hacks. In the warning the FBI stated that there have been a significant amount of reports of Zoom hijackings or “Zoom Bombings” where the individuals displayed pornographic content, hate images and threating language. In one reported incident an unidentified individual joined a Massachusetts based high schools zoom meeting yelled profanity and then went on to announce the instructors home address to the class. In addition to these “Zoom Bombings” it is also now known that Zoom had been sharing users information with Facebook. As a result of this action Zoom has had a lawsuit filed against it in the state of California. The suit alleges that “Upon installing or upon each opening of the Zoom App, Zoom collects the personal information of its users and discloses, without adequate notice or authorization, this personal information to third parties, including Facebook, Inc. (“Facebook”), invading the privacy of millions of users,” . It is clear that Zoom is far from perfect and has had some serious growing pains as a result of the influx of users.
Given how much we now rely on this platform it is very important that we know how to properly and safely use it. In the conclusion of the FBI report there were valuable tips offered in how one might better secure their Zoom meetings. These tips include making your meeting private instead of public, sharing links directly to individuals not over social media, and managing screensharing options to “host only”. In these strange times Zoom is now very much part of our everyday life. It has been so valuable for so many reasons and has brought people closer together. However, with the positives there comes negatives and we must be knowledgeable about this moving forward.