Zoom privacy risk? Secrets about this video calling app you should know

Popular video calling app Zoom has come under the radar for various privacy breaches in the past, learn about the risk of using it.

The popular Zoom video calling app first rose to prominence during the initial wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Zoom app quickly became a household name given various global lockdown restrictions bringing about the work-from-home and school-from-home culture. With the need for conferences, meetings and virtual classes, Zoom app was a handy tool that was used not only for offices and schools but also for casual conversations between friends and family.

Zoom platform was soon being used by millions of people worldwide and it is easy to see why. With various customisation options, regular new feature releases and an easy to use user interface, it became the go-to video calling app for many. However, a recent CNET report suggests that along with its popularity, numerous reports of privacy breach and risks grew as well. 

Some of the well known issues Zoom has faced in the past include a built-in attention tracking feature where the host could see if the Zoom app or window was in the foreground or background. This service, however, has been disabled since December 2021. Other major issues the company has faced are software bugs that allowed an attacker to install malware or spyware in a user’s computer and ‘Zoom-bombing’ where uninvited attendees could enter and cause disruption in the meeting room.

Although Zoom has added various security features since its launch, there still exists some risks to your privacy that you should be aware of.

Which Zoom privacy risks still exist

On the top of the list is Zoom’s cloud recording feature, that any paid subscriber of the platform can use. On the surface, the feature seems beneficial. It allows the host to record a meeting and store it in the cloud where it can later be accessed by any other authorized users, including people who have never attended the meeting. What it means, that in an office setting, a meeting between employees can later be viewed by their boss. It does not need to be said that such a feature can give anxiety to many people and make them over conscious of anything they say during the meeting.

Zoom does allow administrators to limit the audience by making it accessible to only pre-approved IP addresses. But that still does not help it much as the access does not remain with the host. As a saving grace, participants can see when they are being recorded and take preventive measures.

Zoom’s data sharing with Facebook

Back in March 2020, an analysis by Vice’s Motherboard revealed that the iOS version of Zoom app was sending user analytics to Facebook, whether or not the user had a Facebook account. Zoom was sharing information relating to what device a user was using, name of the phone carrier, present location and a unique advertising identifier.

Zoom’s privacy policy also contained some vague language around third-party data sharing around that time, that made many experts raise concern over where else and to what extent was user data being shared.

“Sharing Personal Data with the third-party provider while using these tools may fall within the extremely broad definition of the ‘sale’ of Personal Data under certain state laws because those companies might use Personal Data for their own business purposes, as well as Zoom’s purposes,” the policy said at that time.

By late March 2020, Zoom updated its privacy policy where it said that it was not making any changes to its practices and just wanted to make the language clearer.

“No data regarding user activity on the Zoom platform — including video, audio, and chat content – is ever provided to third parties for advertising purposes,” the later version of the privacy policy said.

If you use Zoom, you should definitely check out your device security settings and aim to minimize permissions.

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