Skype me: How military-banned Zoom wins in the age of Covid-19

The surge in people working from home means video conferencing tools have really taken off - but how secure are they?

Covid-19 and the surge in housebound workers, has seen video conferencing tools take a swift uptick in users. And while Skype seems to have become the default verb for video calling, it's not become the default choice. That seems to be Zoom, which is used by UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, for top secret cabinet meetings and this week received a military ban due to security fears.

Ease of use has seen Zoom surge in popularity

Zoom is easy to use. That's why my local yoga studio is relying on it to run live classes in the lockdown and why it's become the default for every work call I've been on over the last couple of weeks. It also has a solid reach - with 13 global data centres and a presence in the US, UK, France, Australia, China and Japan - amongst others.

Gartner named it a leader in its Magic Quadrant for meeting solutions for the third consecutive year, last July. And a detailed interview in Protocol this month with Chief Product Officer, Oded Gal, put the platform's secret down to latency. It always aims to stay under 150 milliseconds - the maximum before conversations feel unnatural.

Zoom's security is in question

This January, its vulnerabilities were revealed loud and clear when security researchers found serious flaws in the platform. These could have allowed hackers to join a video meeting uninvited and listen in, potentially accessing any files or information shared during the meeting. 

Tom Lysemose Hansen, CTO at Norwegian app security company, Promon also points to the privacy policy which allows bosses to track employee attention during calls and shares the copious amounts of data it collects with third parties.

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