Google bans use of Zoom on employee computers due to security concerns

Google on Wednesday banned the use of video conferencing service Zoom on employee computers, citing concerns around security vulnerabilities. 

Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda told The Hill, after first telling BuzzFeed News, that the policy was limited to corporate computers, and was part of Google’s long-standing policy of not allowing the use of “unapproved apps for work.”

“Recently, our security team informed employees using Zoom Desktop Client that it will no longer run on corporate computers as it does not meet our security standards for apps used by our employees,” Castaneda said. “Employees who have been using Zoom to stay in touch with family and friends can continue to do so through a web browser or via mobile.”

Google is the latest in a line of companies and government agencies to ban use of Zoom following two weeks of security and privacy concerns coming to light about the company. 

Reuters reported last week that both SpaceX and NASA had banned the use of Zoom due to privacy concerns. 

The move by Google came the same day that the German Federal Foreign Office restricted employees from using Zoom on government devices. 

“According to media reports and according to our own knowledge, the software from Zoom has critical weaknesses and continues to have significant security and data protection problems,” the Foreign Office wrote in a memo to employees which was made available to German publication Handelsblatt.

Taiwan’s Cabinet ordered government agencies on Tuesday to stop using the Zoom conferencing app, also pointing to concerns over security risks. 

Zoom has faced a litany of security and privacy concerns over the past two weeks as individuals around the world have moved online for classes, work meetings and social interactions due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company’s average daily users hit 200 million in March, up from 10 million a day in December. 

The increased users led to an uptick in hackers finding vulnerabilities and disrupting meetings through “Zoom bombings.” Multiple class-action lawsuits have been filed against the company in regards to reports that it shares data with third-party companies including Facebook, and several state attorneys general are looking into Zoom. 

On Capitol Hill, several Democratic lawmakers have sent letters to Zoom asking questions around security protocols, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Tuesday called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Zoom. 

“As Zoom becomes embedded in our classrooms, workplaces, and government, we urgently need a full and transparent investigation of its privacy and security,” Blumenthal said in a statement. 

The company has pledged to beef up security, with Zoom CEO Eric Yuan promising last week to make privacy protocols more transparent, and to submit the company systems to third-party evaluation to find cyber vulnerabilities. 

“We did not design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying, and socializing from home,” Yuan wrote in a blog post last week. “We now have a much broader set of users who are utilizing our product in a myriad of unexpected ways, presenting us with challenges we did not anticipate when the platform was conceived.”

Tags Computer security Google Internet privacy Privacy Zoom

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