Zoom admits meetings don't use end-to-end encryption

Conferencing app used by UK government isn't as secure as first thought

Video conferencing app Zoom does not use end-to-end encryption, according to reports, despite specifically stating that it does on its website.

Though Zoom offers users the option to “enable an end-to-end (E2E) encrypted meeting,” and provides a green padlock that claims “Zoom is using an end to end encrypted connection,” the company this week admitted that offers no such thing.

A spokesperson for the company told The Intercept that, despite its claims, it was "currently not possible" to enable end-to-end encryption for its video meetings.

Instead, the spokesperson revealed, the service uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) which encrypts data between user's meetings and Zoom's servers. End-to-end refers to data encrypted between calls, blocking out third parties - which includes the service provider. As a result, the company can see and use the data for things like targeted ads. 

"When we use the phrase ‘End to End’ in our other literature, it is in reference to the connection being encrypted from Zoom end point to Zoom end point,” the spokesperson added.

Like a number of video conferencing services, Zoom is currently benefiting from the coronavirus lockdown. Its usage in the US is reportedly three times as much as Microsoft Teams, which is fairly impressive for an app that was almost unheard of this time last year. 

Given the rapid rise of Zoom, Microsoft recently singled out the service in a partner video, suggesting that it's a threat to its business model as it can be used in tandem with rivals like Slack and Google's G Suite, unlike Teams.

Part of Zoom's appeal to organisations is its simplicity and the fact it can be used for free, albeit without any premium features, which lets businesses try it out before forking out any money. "Video conferencing is a fantastic necessity in times like these but it is vitally important to understand the security and privacy concerns that go in parallel with this increasingly popular form of communication," said Jake Moore, a cyber security specialist for ESET. "For social and light business meetings they are fine as long as users realise what data is being shared by Zoom to third parties. I certainly wouldn't recommend using free software for sensitive or private meetings."

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson tweeted a picture of his cabinet's "first digital meeting" and, comically, left the ID number visible. This security blunder will not have gone down well with the Ministery of Defence, which has reportedly banned Zoom due to security concerns. 

Zoom told The Intercept that it only collects user data to improve the service and that it never allows its employees to access specific content in meetings and doesn't sell any kind of user data. However, the company did confirm that it could hand over data from meetings if it was compelled to for legal proceedings. 

Featured Resources

Virtual desktops and apps for dummies

An easy guide to virtual desktop infrastructure, end-user computing, and more

Download now

The total economic impact of optimising and managing your hybrid multi-cloud

Cost savings and business benefits of accelerating the cloud journey

Download now

A buyer’s guide for cloud-based phone solutions

Finding the right phone system for your modern business

Download now

What’s next for the education sector?

A new learning experience

Download now

Recommended

Biden calls for $22 billion in cyber security funding
Security

Biden calls for $22 billion in cyber security funding

18 May 2021
Avast’s Business Hub helps eliminate gaps in cyber defense
Security

Avast’s Business Hub helps eliminate gaps in cyber defense

18 May 2021
NETSCOUT threat intelligence report
Whitepaper

NETSCOUT threat intelligence report

18 May 2021
Defend your organisation from evolving ransomware attacks
ransomware

Defend your organisation from evolving ransomware attacks

18 May 2021

Most Popular

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans
flexible working

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans

6 May 2021
Hackers use open source Microsoft dev platform to deliver trojans
Security

Hackers use open source Microsoft dev platform to deliver trojans

14 May 2021
How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD
operating systems

How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD

30 Apr 2021