(Kay Scanlon / Los Angeles Times)
Fairmont Preparatory Academy

Zoom: the dilemma of convenience and security

With the recent Covid-19 outbreak, online learning has become an essential part of learning for students all around the globe. Among many of its platforms, Zoom, developed by Eric Yuan, has undoubtedly become a leading figure in online learning. While the platform provides a number of convenient features, such as webinar, reaction system and breakout rooms system, critics insist that it still has a critical downside–its lack of cybersecurity. 

According to Kate O’Flaherty, a reporter at Forbes, security industry experts have warned of Zoom’s potential threat to the user’s cybersecurity; with recent reports highlighting a series of crimes using Zoom, such as Zoom bombing and hijacking. The concerns towards Zoom’s security has become a reality.

For instance, a church’s bible class located in San Francisco was hijacked by uninvited guests sharing child pornography, O’Flaherty elaborated. 

Brian Feldman, a reporter at New York Intelligencer, has even expressed his concerns with the app’s installer. Zoom’s installer, Feldman stated, had an issue where it took over admin authority to gain root access to the user’s computer. This issue could potentially allow the app to install programs that can access the user’s webcam and microphone. The app also has a dubious routing system that again puts the user’s security in danger. 

Feldman further elaborated that Zoom was found to be sending the users’ data to Facebook, even if the user was not logged in to Facebook. What’s worse, Zoom has recently apologized for routing the data through China, where the internet is largely controlled by the government.

Moreover, its use of a type of encryption called the transport encryption gives rise to further security concerns, according to Feldman.

While Zoom claims that it provides end-to-end encryption, the reality is that they only provide such encryption, which prevents anyone from accessing one’s zoom meetings or chats, to paid users only. This makes the majority of the users vulnerable to cyberattacks, such as bombing and hijacking. 

Despite such criticism, it is undeniable that Zoom has paved a new path in online learning. Its influence now extends beyond schools or business organizations, enabling many families and friends to talk face-to-face simultaneously across the seas with its innovative system. It is important, however, to overcome the security challenges posed through constant research to prove its credibility to the public.