Zoom's CEO, Erin Yuan, apologized, and committed to fixing the problems. The company even paused all feature development in the short-term until it has a better grip on the security issues. Zoom now says it's rolling out changes that should help prevent some of the worst issues--notably "Zoombombing," where hackers join a meeting, take over screen-sharing, and display inappropriate material.
That's a big deal, since millions of Americans are depending on the company's ubiquitous videoconferencing software right now for everything from work and school to staying connected to family and even birthday parties.
Zoom's changes involve two specific areas--both of which I recommended you do last week. I'm not suggesting Zoom took my advice, but I agree both are a good step in the right direction.
Effective April 5, we are enabling passwords and virtual waiting rooms by default for our Free Basic and Single Pro users. We strongly encourage all users to implement passwords for all of their meetings ... https://t.co/IdPhboBTnt via @verge-- Zoom (@zoom_us) April 4, 2020
Starting today, Zoom meetings will have the waiting room feature enabled by default. That means meeting organizers have to manually allow guests to enter the meeting, preventing unwanted guests from slipping in.
Zoom is also now requiring passwords for meetings started by entering a meeting ID, since those are relatively easy to guess and hack. That means that if you're used to joining a meeting just by entering the meeting ID, that won't work. Instead, you'll have to either join directly via a link sent to you in an invite, or you'll need a password.
That's going to make it harder to use. One of the reasons that Zoom became so popular so quickly is because it was, quite simply, the easiest way to have a video meeting. It was simple and fast to install, free to use, and easy to join a meeting--unlike many of its competitors. What became apparent over the past few weeks, however, is that the tradeoff for that convenience is that many of the company's security practices took shortcuts.
As Zoom fixes those practices, it will mean more work for users. That's always the tradeoff with technology. It's far more convenient not to have to enter a password, for example, until someone gets into your bank account and spends your money. So, we use passwords and two-factor-authentication to keep important information safe.
Actually, it's not even just about technology. It's far more convenient to leave your front door unlocked all the time. In fact, just leave it wide open and you can just walk in and out. Until someone else decides they want to come in and "borrow" your television. The small inconvenience of having to carry a key to unlock your door isn't really a big deal compared to keeping your valuables.
So it is with Zoom. The company is definitely doing the right thing by making its platform more secure. Just realize that means it won't be quite as easy as it was before. It also means you'll probably have to spend a little more time making sure the right people have the right password to get into your next meeting, starting today.
Finally, when you're hosting a meeting, you'll need to pay attention to your waiting room. Otherwise, it won't be just the bad guys who can't join your meeting.