Thoughts on Zoom, Security and Culture

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We think that Zoom is the most secure video conference platform in the world.
This is why.

Imagine your business has 10 million users. Now imagine that in one month’s time, your users multiply by 20 – from 10 to 200 million. And then, one month later, your users expand from 200 to 300 million.

Unrealistic, right? That’s exactly what happened to Zoom from March to May 2020.

As the coronavirus pandemic raged across the globe, Zoom quickly became the most popular video conference platform in the world. The platform was helping everyone – individuals, families, schools, business owners and essential workers – to communicate in the age of physical distancing.

As Zoom’s scalability accelerated through the roof, reports on Zoom’s security issues began to surface in various media. Reports detailed encryption problems, third party privacy issues and, of course, Zoombombing.

Zoom’s unprecedented acceleration is incredibly impressive. But what is even more impressive is how it chose – and still chooses – to transform security challenges into opportunities for growth and sustainability.

Prioritizing Platform Security

At the end of March 2020, after the rapid rise in the use of its product, Zoom identified several key vulnerability issues that required immediate attention. These included removing and reconfiguring the Facebook SDK so that it does not collect user device information, and fixing the Chat feature, so that user device information remains hidden. Needless to say, these issues and several others were fixed as soon as they were brought to the company’s attention.

The company also had to face the now-notorious Zoombombing phenomenon, which was conducted by malicious individuals who managed to scare, offend and even traumatize innocent Zoom meeting users. Since its platform was now being used by so many individuals without any corporate IT help or monitoring, Zoom immediately realized that it needed to help them understand how to protect themselves. As a result, Zoom released a slew of tutorials on a myriad of protective tools, including a tutorial on the “waiting room” feature, which, if applied correctly, can thwart Zoombombers once and for all.

As most of you can now recall, there was a week or so in late March when, alongside massive Zoom-usage, serious concerns were raised regarding the platform’s security and privacy capabilities. These concerns faded very quickly. Zoom made changes to its platform and educated its users, but there was much more to it than that. Zoom chose to view the challenge as an opportunity to get better – and to lead by example.

A Lesson of Leadership

On April 1st, Zoom CEO and Founder Eric. S. Yuan posted a message to Zoom users on Zoom’s website blog. In the blog post, he shed light on the company’s security challenges during the company’s extreme scalability and accelerated penetration into the private-user market. He wanted Zoom users to understand what the company had done to address security issues, and what it plans to do in the future. He also set up a recurrent weekly webinar in which users could ask him direct questions. He did not back down from responsibility. The goal was maximum transparency.

Actions Speak Louder

Zoom did more than talk and explain. They backed their words with actions. First of all, the company designated a 90-day timeframe, in which all engineering resources will be shifted to address security issues. Second, it established a CISO council and advisory board comprised of industry-leading CISOs. Third, Zoom acquired Keybase, a company with high-end security and encryption capabilities for messaging platforms, and plans to use its expertise to further improve its platform.

These actions and many others have positioned Zoom to become the world’s most secure video conference platform. In fact, it probably already is. It will continue to be very secure – without compromising its trademark seamless accessibility – because its leaders have realized that the goal is not to create a problem-free environment, but rather to accept security issues for what they are, and to address them with quickness, methodical precision, efficiency and transparency.

Strength Begins with Culture

Over the past few months, Zoom has become more than just the talk of the town. It has become the talk of the world. Its popularity is attributed to its intuitive platform, which is easy to use and facilitates effective communication under the harshest conditions. Yet Zoom’s robust platform isn’t the company’s biggest strength. Their biggest asset is their culture. It is this culture that allowed the company to face adversity with courage, innovation and trust, and to continue on its unique path to becoming an impactful global organization.

Disclaimer: Naotech is the official Zoom partner in Israel. The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to Naotech, and do not reflect the views and positions of Zoom or any other party or company.

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