As an Internet Security professional, I have heard some folks expressing dismay over various security issues in the Zoom video conferencing package and the MatterMost chat services. I may do a piece on MatterMost at a later date, but for now I want to focus on Zoom because Zoom is what Meetup is suggesting as one of their preferred video conferencing platforms. (The other, Google Hangouts, is limited to ten people and thus isn’t practical for a number of the meetups I run.)
The thing is, many of the earlier security issues which plagued Zoom at the beginning of the recent surge in online meetings have been solved. Tom’s Hardware wrote a very insightful analysis of these issues in a recent article by Paul Wagenseil, Zoom privacy and security issues: Here’s everything that’s wrong (so far).
Most of the issues covered have already been patched, such as UNC password theft under Microsoft Windows. This was a rather insidious security flaw but fortunately the folks at Zoom stepped up to the plate and patched.
iOS profiling also seems to be fixed. Since I do a lot of my Zoom conferencing, with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact grassroots coalition, on the iPhone, this has been a great relief. Now, though, I do most of my meetup Zoom conferences on my laptop.
The decrypting of streams at the Zoom servers and re-encrypting them as they go out to the far-end client is at first blush worrisome, but that in part is necessary for folks recording their zoom sessions and though it puts a vulnerability at the level of Zoom staff, one hopes Zoom is careful with whom it employs. But it must be said, nothing I do on Zoom is something I would be embarrassed about were it to leak. I nonetheless want to do everything in my power to make sure it stays secure and I’m happy to hear Zoom is looking into closing this security flaw.
The auto-download for Macintosh is worrisome but again I am happy to say this practice is also ending as it is a backdoor that Zoom can use to allow third party software onto ones Mac. Zoom also has ceased allowing team profiles to share email addresses, though this is not a feature I’m using for any of my Zoom conferences.
As for recording leaking onto the Internet or folks joining your conference uninvited (Zoom Bombing) or war drive scanning Zoom to find your conference, all of these can be solved by user diligence. It’s important to be mindful of who you let into a conference, and don’t let just anyone have access to your recordings. For my Writing Groups, only myself, the account owner, and the persons being reviewed will ever have access to the recordings, and if the reviewed doesn’t need the recordings, we will delete them.
Also, as of this morning, 5 April 2020, at 0:00 UTC, Zoom now requires passwords on all new Zoom events. Thus, even with a Zoom ID scan, you won’t be able to get into the meeting without the password and although the URL can encode the password in an obfuscated way, simply scanning Zoom IDs will not get you into the conferences. And even if you did, I’d still have to approve you. I won’t.
Overall, I’m quite happy with Zoom and hope to use it all through Covidapolis. Overall, I give it this Security Engineers line of approval. And please note, I am available for hire if you like what you see!
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