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Zoom security and privacy focus sees 9 new features

Update: Zoom 5.0.0 is finally landing today, after initially being promised for April 22. It hasn’t yet shown up in all app stores, but should do so shortly.

Zoom security and privacy has been boosted with the addition of no fewer than nine new features in the latest update, Zoom 5.0 …

Coronavirus lockdowns saw Zoom go from a moderately successful business videoconferencing to one of the most popular consumer apps across all platforms. That was great news for the company; unfortunately, such widespread use made it a target, exposing a number of security and privacy holes.

Issues seen included sending data to Facebook; a false claim to use end-to-end encryption; vulnerabilities that could allow a local hacker to gain root access; and guessable meeting IDs and weak encryption. That saw widespread bans on the use of the platform by governments and businesses alike.

In a new blog post today, the company outlined the protections it has added.

  • AES 256-bit GCM encryption: Zoom is upgrading to the AES 256-bit GCM encryption standard, which offers increased protection of your meeting data in transit and resistance against tampering. This provides confidentiality and integrity assurances on your Zoom Meeting, Zoom Video Webinar, and Zoom Phone data. Zoom 5.0, which is slated for release within the week, supports GCM encryption, and this standard will take effect once all accounts are enabled with GCM. System-wide account enablement will take place on May 30.
  • Security icon: Zoom’s security features, which had previously been accessed throughout the meeting menus, are now grouped together and found by clicking the Security icon in the meeting menu bar on the host’s interface.
  • Robust host controls: Hosts will be able to “Report a User” to Zoom via the Security icon. They may also disable the ability for participants to rename themselves. For education customers, screen sharing now defaults to the host only.
  • Waiting Room default-on: Waiting Room, an existing feature that allows a host to keep participants in individual virtual waiting rooms before they are admitted to a meeting, is now on by default for education, Basic, and single-license Pro accounts. All hosts may now also turn on the Waiting Room while their meeting is already in progress.
  • Meeting password complexity and default-on: Meeting passwords, an existing Zoom feature, is now on by default for most customers, including all Basic, single-license Pro, and K-12 customers. For administered accounts, account admins now have the ability to define password complexity (such as length, alphanumeric, and special character requirements). Additionally, Zoom Phone admins may now adjust the length of the pin required for accessing voicemail.
  • Cloud recording passwords: Passwords are now set by default to all those accessing cloud recordings aside from the meeting host and require a complex password. For administered accounts, account admins now have the ability to define password complexity.
  • Secure account contact sharing: Zoom 5.0 will support a new data structure for larger organizations, allowing them to link contacts across multiple accounts so people can easily and securely search and find meetings, chat, and phone contacts.
  • Dashboard enhancement: Admins on business, enterprise, and education plans can view how their meetings are connecting to Zoom data centers in their Zoom Dashboard. This includes any data centers connected to HTTP Tunnel servers, as well as Zoom Conference Room Connectors and gateways.
  • Additional: Users may now opt to have their Zoom Chat notifications not show a snippet of their chat; new non-PMI meetings now have 11-digit IDs for added complexity; and during a meeting, the meeting ID and Invite option have been moved from the main Zoom interface to the Participants menu, making it harder for a user to accidentally share their meeting ID.

This follows the ability to opt out of the use of Chinese servers, and is, says says the company, just one milestone in the 90-day Zoom security and privacy plan to resolve all the issues identified.

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