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The meteoric rise of the Zoom videoconferencing application slowed down by security vulnerabilities

A student takes a lesson from the Zoom video conferencing application in El Masnou (north of Barcelona) on April 2. ALBERT GEA / REUTERS

In these times of global population containment to fight the coronavirus epidemic, few services have experienced an explosion in their use as impressive as the Zoom video conferencing application. The number of daily users has increased 20-fold in three months, with around 200 million people connected every day in March.

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But this success is also accompanied by an avalanche of criticism. These mainly relate to the security guarantees of this tool. IT experts have identified several vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. It was also revealed that the company shared information about some of its users with Facebook and could very discreetly go and search users' LinkedIn profiles without their knowledge.

“Zoombombing”

Another problem is the appearance of a phenomenon of “Zoombombing”: individuals have managed to interfere in videoconferences to disseminate, for example, pornographic or hateful content. As of the end of March, the United States' FBI reported receiving several reports of this type of event, some taking place as part of virtual classes organized by teachers on Zoom. Finally, the company also had to recognize that a – very small – part of the data from calls made from the United States had accidentally passed through its infrastructure in China – an unwelcome episode given the tensions between the two countries.

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So much bad publicity that is starting to harm Californian society. Several companies and organizations have already announced that they will now do without Zoom, preferring alternative services deemed safer. The Taiwanese government announced Tuesday (April 7) that it will ban its agents from using the application in the course of their work. Before him, the American car manufacturer Tesla and the New York Department of Education did the same.

Less rigorous use

Created in 2011 by a former Cisco, Eric Yuan, Zoom had designed its product for businesses. She hadn't imagined that, nine years later, it would be the solution preferred by many users to continue their studies, attend fitness classes or organize virtual aperitifs. However, this mass of users may not be using it with as much rigor and precaution as professionals would do it – in particular to avoid seeing an “intruder” participate in a discussion.

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The firm takes its share of responsibility. ” Things [qu’on nous reproche] shouldn't have happened ” and “We need to regain the trust of users”admitted Yuan in an interview on Friday April 3 Wall street journal. At the beginning of the month, a decision was made to assign the engineering teams only to matters of security and privacy. The company has also stopped sharing information with Facebook.

These are all essential measures for a company whose action peaked at nearly $ 160 on March 23, which is $ 100 more than when it was introduced on April 18, 2019. Since then, it has lost almost a quarter of its value in because of his multiple setbacks. And a Credit Suisse analyst is already predicting that the success of the app may fall again as soon as the containment ends, except perhaps with free users of the service – who, in essence, do not earn it any revenue. Eric Yuan is well aware of the danger. At Wall street journal, he even said “If we get it wrong again, it's done”.

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