U.S. Senate, Google ban Zoom days after its launch of 'security council'

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Following two weeks of escalating privacy and security concerns about video conferencing platform Zoom, the U.S. Senate and Google have both banned its members and employees from using the software.

An element of the U.S. government and a tech juggernaut have both banned Zoom.
An element of the U.S. government and a tech juggernaut have both banned Zoom.


Zoom has become a popular platform due to widespread coronavirus work-from-home policies, but it's been beset by multiple security and privacy blunders since its boom in usage.

Because of those concerns, various government entities, private corporations and public organizations have banned its members from using the app -- including both Google and at least one chamber of the U.S. Congress.

Ars Technica reports that the Senate sergeant-at-arms has warned senators against using the service. On Wednesday, Google also issued a ban on Zoom for employees, according to BuzzFeed News.

Both bans come just a few days after schools in New York City's Department of Education barred teachers from using the app to teach students remotely. The FBI warned Americans last month of a practice called "Zoombombing," which entails hijacking of video conferences by uninvited guests.

Zoom said in a statement that it is now "working around-the-clock to ensure that universities, schools, and other businesses around the world can stay connected and operational during this pandemic."

As part of its attempts to regain user trust, the platform has recently created a new security advisory council headed by former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos.

In March, a Motherboard investigation found that Zoom for iOS app was sending data to Facebook analytics without explicitly outlining the practice -- and even if a user didn't have an account. Zoom eventually removed that "feature."

The conferencing app has also had trouble with a "shady" malware-like installation process, misleadings claim about end-to-end encryption, and several local security vulnerabilities.

In the wake of those discoveries, the video conferencing app has paused development to focus on patching its security and privacy issues.

As a result of Zoom's flaws, a class-action lawsuit has been levied against Zoom in California for its handling of user data. The state of New York has also launched a probe into the company's privacy and security policies.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    Security advisory council headed by a Facebook security officer... Bwahahahahaha  long way to go guys!
    cornchipleavingthebiggAnilu_777lkruppcgWerksrazorpitmagman1979dysamoriaronnpscooter63
  • Reply 2 of 25
    Makes sense for the senate. Might be bad for meetings to be routed through Chinese servers. 

    Makes sense for Google. They have a directly competing service. 
    jony0ronnqwerty52watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 25
    Let me get this straight. The US Senate is using a video conferencing app. which doesn't use end to end encryption and data may travel through China. Epic fail!!!
    jony0magman1979pujones1dysamoriarazorpitronnflyingdpqwerty52watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 25
    CRTisMeCRTisMe Posts: 5unconfirmed, member
    Creating a Security advisory council is a good step. One that loses all of its’ trust regaining value by choosing a former Facebook security officer to head it. Good grief!!  What were they thinking??  The individual may be qualified, but think about the optics. Facebook has a HORRIBLE track record where security is concerned. 
    cornchipjony0magman1979macseekerdysamoriaronnflyingdpqwerty52watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 25
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,991member
    Funny how corporations react when they get caught at something, including Apple. It’s always explained as trying to do right by their customers. When my youngest son was working on his MBA at the Washington University Olin School of Business in St. Louis he told me about a class he was taking on just how to respond when you get caught with your pants down around your ankles. The professor set up various situations and asked the students to respond. My son said the majority of the class always seemed to prefer the cover-up route, obfuscation, and denial. Many of these students were already in positions of management at their respective companies. My son said the professor was aghast at some of the solutions. Honesty and straightforwardness was what he wanted to hear but didn’t. 
    CRTisMecgWerksjony0razorpitmagman1979dysamoriaronnkurai_kageGG1ForumPost
  • Reply 6 of 25
    Security advisory council headed by a Facebook security officer... Bwahahahahaha  long way to go guys!
    Alex Stamos is very well regarded in the ITSec community. He left Facebook because he couldn't get them to take security seriously enough; his association with Zoom (or it's dissolution) is a good indicator about whether or not they're doing the right things as far as privacy and security.  
    dysamoriadewmeronnminicoffeewatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 25
    lkrupp said:
    Funny how corporations react when they get caught at something, including Apple. It’s always explained as trying to do right by their customers. When my youngest son was working on his MBA at the Washington University Olin School of Business in St. Louis he told me about a class he was taking on just how to respond when you get caught with your pants down around your ankles. The professor set up various situations and asked the students to respond. My son said the majority of the class always seemed to prefer the cover-up route, obfuscation, and denial. Many of these students were already in positions of management at their respective companies. My son said the professor was aghast at some of the solutions. Honesty and straightforwardness was what he wanted to hear but didn’t. 
    Western, or at least North American society generally does not reward honesty and straightforwardness about mistakes. Pivoting in the face of new evidence is often characterized as pejoratively flip flopping and something as simple as a genuine apology is seen as an opening to litigation. 
    jony0magman1979dysamoriaflyingdpwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 25
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,840member
    Let me get this straight. The US Senate is using a video conferencing app. which doesn't use end to end encryption and data may travel through China. Epic fail!!!
    LOL, it is the kind of "end to end encryption" they are requesting all of us have. I guess they don't like it so much when it is done to them, huh?
    Maybe we should rename it Comey-encryption?

    CRTisMe said:
    Creating a Security advisory council is a good step. One that loses all of its’ trust regaining value by choosing a former Facebook security officer to head it. Good grief!!  What were they thinking??  The individual may be qualified, but think about the optics. Facebook has a HORRIBLE track record where security is concerned. 
    Or, the whole point is getting someone who knows how to GET AWAY WITH implementing "security" practices.

    lkrupp said:
    ... My son said the majority of the class always seemed to prefer the cover-up route, obfuscation, and denial. ...
    A problem as old as humanity.

    apple_badger said:
    Alex Stamos is very well regarded in the ITSec community. He left Facebook because he couldn't get them to take security seriously enough; his association with Zoom (or it's dissolution) is a good indicator about whether or not they're doing the right things as far as privacy and security.  
    One can hope, I suppose. But, Zoom's track record seems more in line with Facebook than a company that actually wants to do things the right way. They've got a lot of proving to do before they should be trusted.

    apple_badger said:
    Western, or at least North American society generally does not reward honesty and straightforwardness about mistakes. Pivoting in the face of new evidence is often characterized as pejoratively flip flopping and something as simple as a genuine apology is seen as an opening to litigation. 
    I get the litigation aspect, but the rest of the world values these things more? What societies are you thinking of?
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 25
    cgWerks said:
    apple_badger said:
    Alex Stamos is very well regarded in the ITSec community. He left Facebook because he couldn't get them to take security seriously enough; his association with Zoom (or it's dissolution) is a good indicator about whether or not they're doing the right things as far as privacy and security.  
    One can hope, I suppose. But, Zoom's track record seems more in line with Facebook than a company that actually wants to do things the right way. They've got a lot of proving to do before they should be trusted.
    I am, indeed, hoping. We've opted to use Zoom in a limited way: the risk, benefit, consequence calculation falls in favour of Zoom at the moment. 


    apple_badger said:
    Western, or at least North American society generally does not reward honesty and straightforwardness about mistakes. Pivoting in the face of new evidence is often characterized as pejoratively flip flopping and something as simple as a genuine apology is seen as an opening to litigation. 
    I get the litigation aspect, but the rest of the world values these things more? What societies are you thinking of?
    As a resident of North America (Canada, but we're amazingly similar to the US in a lot of ways and I'm comfortable lumping us together for this), I'm speaking about my views about my own society. My exclusion of other places is not intended to imply that they're better, only that I don't have enough experience to make any comment about them with respect to this topic :)  
    dysamoriacgWerkswatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 25
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    lkrupp said:
    Funny how corporations react when they get caught at something, including Apple. It’s always explained as trying to do right by their customers. When my youngest son was working on his MBA at the Washington University Olin School of Business in St. Louis he told me about a class he was taking on just how to respond when you get caught with your pants down around your ankles. The professor set up various situations and asked the students to respond. My son said the majority of the class always seemed to prefer the cover-up route, obfuscation, and denial. Many of these students were already in positions of management at their respective companies. My son said the professor was aghast at some of the solutions. Honesty and straightforwardness was what he wanted to hear but didn’t. 
    I rarely agree with your positions, but this post was very interesting. Thanks for sharing this.

    👍🏼 ( <— thumbs up emoji )
  • Reply 11 of 25
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    lkrupp said:
    Funny how corporations react when they get caught at something, including Apple. It’s always explained as trying to do right by their customers. When my youngest son was working on his MBA at the Washington University Olin School of Business in St. Louis he told me about a class he was taking on just how to respond when you get caught with your pants down around your ankles. The professor set up various situations and asked the students to respond. My son said the majority of the class always seemed to prefer the cover-up route, obfuscation, and denial. Many of these students were already in positions of management at their respective companies. My son said the professor was aghast at some of the solutions. Honesty and straightforwardness was what he wanted to hear but didn’t. 
    Western, or at least North American society generally does not reward honesty and straightforwardness about mistakes. Pivoting in the face of new evidence is often characterized as pejoratively flip flopping and something as simple as a genuine apology is seen as an opening to litigation. 
    As a compulsively honest North American who hates corporate culture, I agree.
    apple_badger
  • Reply 12 of 25
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    Can anyone explain to me how this previously utterly-unknown-to-me Zoom suddenly became the video conference product of choice before the current round of realizations about how shitty it is?
    razorpitpscooter63qwerty52cgWerks
  • Reply 13 of 25
    dysamoria said:
    Can anyone explain to me how this previously utterly-unknown-to-me Zoom suddenly became the video conference product of choice before the current round of realizations about how shitty it is?
    That’s something I’d like to know, as well. Along with, why is Zoom better than other similar offerings? Can anyone explain the difference between Zoom and, say, Webex?

    (I’ve heard people say, “it’s free!!!” but a quick look at the Webex site shows that they also have a free option for up to 100 people per host for an unlimited meeting time.)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 25
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    dysamoria said:
    Can anyone explain to me how this previously utterly-unknown-to-me Zoom suddenly became the video conference product of choice before the current round of realizations about how shitty it is?
    I'm glad you're saying what I'm thinking. I thought they came out of nowhere. All the blue check marks started suddenly loving this company and I never heard of them. Not that I'm up on all the social platforms, but just seemed really odd. I wonder how many people who use this service are on Office 365 and can be using Teams instead?
    pscooter63qwerty52watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 25
    dysamoria said:
    Can anyone explain to me how this previously utterly-unknown-to-me Zoom suddenly became the video conference product of choice before the current round of realizations about how shitty it is?
    They've been making waves for the past year or two. Other issues notwithstanding, the quality of the service, its ease of use, and its scalability are all well beyond what most competitors seem to be able to manage. I'm not endorsing them or defending them here, but that's really why they became the go to choice for so many in recent weeks.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 25
    geekmeegeekmee Posts: 562member
    The fact that Zoom partnered with the company they were accused of breaking the law with, tells you everything you need to know about their intentions.
    ronnqwerty52cgWerkswatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 25
    razorpit said:
    dysamoria said:
    Can anyone explain to me how this previously utterly-unknown-to-me Zoom suddenly became the video conference product of choice before the current round of realizations about how shitty it is?
    I'm glad you're saying what I'm thinking. I thought they came out of nowhere. All the blue check marks started suddenly loving this company and I never heard of them. Not that I'm up on all the social platforms, but just seemed really odd. I wonder how many people who use this service are on Office 365 and can be using Teams instead?
    My company (which has us all on Office 365) is offering to turn on Teams for us on a case-by-case basis if we have customers who won't meet with us over Zoom. I have two thoughts on this...
    1. Much of this is blown out of proportion. I'm not concerned with being Zoom-bombed, nor am I particularly concerned over my meetings being snooped on.
    2. I met with a company two weeks ago who wanted us to use their Teams system over Zoom. I found it to be less responsive, more cumbersome to access and use, and its UI was far less intuitive. Basically the same issues I find with most Microsoft products. It also didn't appear to have similar functionality, but that could have been dependent on features the host had not enabled.
    I wouldn't even be using Office if my company didn't offer it. While Excel is just fine for crunching numbers, Numbers produces far better-looking tables and charts, I rarely use Word (Pages beats it for almost everything), and never use PowerPoint (because if's a f'ing horrible piece of crap in comparison to Keynote). That leaves Outlook which I use by default, even though I could be using Postbox or Apple Mail and Fantastical.
    apple_badgercgWerkswatto_cobrarazorpit
  • Reply 18 of 25
    dysamoria said:
    Can anyone explain to me how this previously utterly-unknown-to-me Zoom suddenly became the video conference product of choice before the current round of realizations about how shitty it is?
    Ease of install by remote users without tech support.  

    That is also a key source of their problems 
    apple_badgercgWerkswatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 25
    pscooter63pscooter63 Posts: 1,062member
    I found it to be less responsive, more cumbersome to access and use, and its UI was far less intuitive. Basically the same issues I find with most Microsoft products. It also didn't appear to have similar functionality, but that could have been dependent on features the host had not enabled.
    That's really interesting.  My company uses both systems, and between the two, Teams tends to have higher audio quality and a few nifty options I haven't seen elsewhere... such as auto background blur for video conferencing.  A real godsend for folks with less-than-pristine home offices.

    I normally hate Windows with the best of them, but Teams "feels" different.  I don't agree about the comparative intuitiveness of the two systems (I've also used GoToMeeting and WebEx), seems like a toss-up to me.
    edited April 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 25
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    razorpit said:
    dysamoria said:
    Can anyone explain to me how this previously utterly-unknown-to-me Zoom suddenly became the video conference product of choice before the current round of realizations about how shitty it is?
    I'm glad you're saying what I'm thinking. I thought they came out of nowhere. All the blue check marks started suddenly loving this company and I never heard of them. Not that I'm up on all the social platforms, but just seemed really odd. I wonder how many people who use this service are on Office 365 and can be using Teams instead?
    In a nutshell, you could jump into a conference without signing up to the service. For people suddenly finding they had to arrange a meeting from home, this was a godsend. By the time Microsoft realised what was happening, Zoom had scored a major mindshare coup. They must’ve thought they’d hit the mother-load, but now that folk have had time to settle into home-working, we’re starting to hear about the problems and alternatives. 
    watto_cobrarazorpit
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