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Indian govt advisory says avoid using Zoom: Why and what to do if you HAVE to use Zoom

Zoom has been caught in a pile of controversies related to its privacy. Now, India has cautioned its usage during the covid-19 lockdown.

twitter-logoShubham Verma | April 16, 2020 | Updated 17:03 IST

Highlights

  • India's MoHA has cautioned users of Zoom.
  • It is not a safe platform, the ministry told Wednesday.
  • There are, however, certain steps you should take to ensure safety.

In a fresh blow to Zoom, India's Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday issued an advisory on the use of the video conferencing app. It has said the use of the platform is "not safe." The caution has been issued for Zoom users in India, whose numbers have increased dramatically over the past few days. Zoom has emerged as a one-stop solution for video meetings among users during the covid-19-induced lockdown globally. The looming concern on Zoom is related to the security loopholes that have been unearthed in multitudes, also emphasised by the regulators in countries such as the US and Taiwan.

Zoom's potential to break free from the criticism pouring in from all directions is quite less, considering the platform has a dubious privacy policy. Previously, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, cautioned the users in the US on using Zoom for their daily video meetings. The cases of what is being termed "zoom-bombing" have grown exponentially, wherein malicious actors intrude the video calls and inject them with unsavoury elements, such as swastika symbol and pornography. Later, Taiwan announced a blanket ban on the usage of Zoom within the country's borders.

There are alternatives to Zoom, such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, and Google Meet. But their adoption in these times has slowed, owing to the lack of features that Zoom, on the other hand, provides. We are talking about the features such as background change, face beautification, remote access to various desktops, and, most importantly, a large number of participants. Although the features are nifty, they are subject to Zoom's privacy policy, which is yet not clear to users. For instance, Zoom's website mentions end-to-end (E2E) encryption for video calls, but it was later explained by the company that it is only for Zoom text chats and that the video meetings are secured using only the TLS encryption.

So, what if you are still willing to take a risk and use Zoom for video chats?

While there are a lot of features Zoom can boast of, it has to address privacy issues immediately to stop any further criticism. Some recent announcements from Zoom have been centred around tightening privacy and ramping up the security level. These include some steps that you should follow, also issued by the National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC), to safeguard your privacy and data from potential hacks and cybercriminals:

  • The user ID and password for each meeting should be regularised, which means you should enter new credentials for each meeting.
  • Set up a waiting room for video meetings by default, so that there can be no unauthorised access by strangers.
  • Also, you are recommended to disable "Join" before enabling "Host" for a video meeting.
  • As far as screen-sharing is concerned, it should be done by Host only. The recording should also be restricted.
  • The Host should disable the "Allow removed participants to rejoin".
  • The file transfer option should be limited or, better, disabled for certain video meetings that you think may not require file sharing.
  • The Host should lock a video meeting after checking all the participants have joined in.
  • The video meetings, when complete, should be ended rather than being just left by the host, as well as the participants.

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Tags: Zoom
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