There is no question that, despite its recent problems, Zoom has become an indispensable part of the everyday lives of, well, a lot of us. In fact, the company just revealed how many of us, and the number is quite staggering. Zoom says 300 million people are using the popular videoconferencing service every day.
I guess that makes sense. I use it for four or five meetings every day. On top of that, each of our four children uses it on a regular basis for school. Then there are the more personal ways we're using it. We celebrated Easter with our extended family via video this year.
Of course, as the service grew in use, it quickly became clear that there were some very real problems.
There's an irony that despite the fact that we know about the issues, hundreds of millions of people still flocked to the service. I don't know if that's because people just don't quite understand the scope of the privacy issues, or if they just don't care. I suppose there's also the "it can't happen to me," mentality playing a part here.
Well, I've been paying attention. I've said before that Zoom is probably the most important app in the business world right now, but at the same time, we really need the company to get its act together.
Fortunately, Zoom has been listening. This isn't even the first time it's stepped up security, but it's by far the most consequential. In fact, the company released a range of new security features designed to keep your meetings safer.
Here's what you should know about the most important changes:
This might actually be the most important change of all. Previously, users had to navigate through various menus to access all of the different security settings. Now, meeting hosts can actually access them directly from the menu bar during a meeting. This makes it far easier to change sharing settings, for example.
With the increased occurrence of "Zoombombing," the company is making it possible to report a user that causes problems. When reporting a user from the Security Icon, Zoom will take a screenshot of the user, as well as any content they are sharing. Zoom will investigate and block accounts that it deems to have violated its terms.
One of the criticisms that Zoom has faced is the lack of end-to-end encryption. Zoom says it is upgrading the security of your video meetings by using 256-bit AES-GCM encryption. That probably means nothing to you, except it's pretty much impossible that anyone can snoop in on your meeting. While it's still not "technically" end-to-end, it's about as secure as you can get for data in transit.
In addition, account admins can choose the data center regions their meetings will use. Previously Zoom had faced criticism over its use of data centers located in China, and will now allow those admins to opt-out of those locations.
Zoom previously turned on the waiting room feature for its Basic and single-license pro accounts, but now that's also the case for education users. In addition, hosts can actually turn on the waiting room, even while a meeting is in progress, making it easier to control access once you've logged on.