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Zoom boss admits missteps but insists improvements have been made

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan has admitted his team made missteps with his company’s videoconferencing platform following recent widespread criticism of its security protection and privacy policies.

Yuan made the comments on Sunday during a CNN interview, speaking in front of a background showing a heart-shaped image of the world and the words, “We care.”

The coronavirus outbreak put videoconferencing software front and center as huge numbers of office workers around the world began working from home as part of wider measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, officially known as COVID-19.

Zoom emerged as one of the go-to platforms for remote workers, but quickly came under fire for what appeared to be a lax approach toward security as some users suffered “zoombombing,” in which hackers invade an online meeting and show violent imagery or pornography (here’s how to stop it from happening). Its privacy policies were also criticized after it emerged that it was sending some user data to Facebook, a practice it says it’s now stopped. Concerns were also raised over the validity of its claim that the service offered end-to-end encryption.

Yuan told CNN that at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the California-based company “had some missteps” and “moved too fast,” and as a consequence failed to consider its recent influx of new users.

The CEO said one of the issues was that many newcomers did not have solid IT support — in contrast with its traditional user base of business and enterprise customers — and therefore failed to set up the system correctly.

Asked by the interviewer if hackers can spy on his own daughter’s Zoom conversations with her friends and classmates, Yuan assured him that the online meetings were secure so long as everything was properly configured at the outset using passwords and other safeguards.

“We have all of the security features built in, however, we need to offer some education, we should have enforced settings for brand new users, especially consumers, and that’s what we have done recently,” Yuan said. On Sunday, April 5, Zoom began automatically enabling security features such as password entry and Waiting Rooms in order to deliver what it says is now “a secure virtual meeting environment.”

Responding to reports that the New York City Department of Education had ditched Zoom over security issues, Yuan insisted his company is still in talks with the district as it attempts to reassure it that the software is safe to use.

In related news last week, SpaceX had reportedly decided to stop using Zoom over security and privacy concerns.

In his CNN interview, Yuan was adamant his team had learned its lesson, saying: “We’ve doubled down, tripled down on security and privacy,” though whether his company’s actions will be enough to keep all users on board remains to be seen.

For anyone looking for alternatives to Zoom, Digital Trends has some great suggestions here and here.

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