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Zoom – addressing the elephant in the chat room

How much do you know about Zoom? Are the rumors about it not being safe true? Find out all about it here! 

zoom app logo and background
Image: KnowTechie

In this blog, you’ll read a very to the point guide on why you shouldn’t use Zoom anymore. I’ll also be highlighting better alternatives that do come with safer features. There’s even a list of features regarding choosing a VPN to protect you on Zoom.

Ready? Let’s get started!

Who doesn’t love a great app that binds people from all over the world on one platform that makes it feel like you’re talking to the next-door neighbor? Zoom is now one of the more popular communication apps that allows users from anywhere to converse through cloud-based peer-to-peer software.

Zoom was extremely popular during the pandemic and has managed to develop many new improvements till late. For instance, it now offers features that allow you to pin and rearrange many new chat windows during calls.

However, just because Zoom is the crowd’s favorite, doesn’t mean it comes without any vulnerabilities. Most of the Zoom users are happy with the new features, its user-friendliness, or maybe just pleased with the overall experience.

But, are you aware of the multiple problems that have arisen during the time of its launch? Amidst the hype, we always tend to overlook it.

Let’s zoom into the vulnerabilities

There were many circumstances where issues within Zoom could’ve led to multiple cyberattacks, according to security researcher Mazin Ahmed. He found many vulnerabilities in the infrastructure, in the software’s end-to-end encryption claims, and even found a memory leak, to which he reported to the company.

The fact that Zoom very clearly stated on its website that the service come with end-to-end encryption, and then was part of multiple outbursts of security malfunctions, only proves the point of how you can’t trust the service.

Here’s what you should know and understand about the app before making it your number one go-to:

  • It doesn’t matter if you’re using Zoom for just sharing homework with the classmates, it’s the fact that it collects multiple information and stores it.
  • When you connect to a Zoom server, there are chances that a lot of sensitive data can be hacked from your devices without you being aware of it.
  • Sends your data to Facebook even if you’re not signed up with it.
  • Distributed encryption keys and servers through China.
  • You could be spied on as soon as your camera is powered on.

There are many reasons why you shouldn’t be using Zoom and it’s understandable that many software usually come with vulnerabilities, but the fact that Zoom has been out in the open where major issues have occurred, should indeed spark some major red flags.

Just because a service, website or app says that they have a strict privacy or security policy doesn’t mean you should immediately trust the source. You need to always do a little research before letting your kids use the software.

However, if you’re going to use Zoom anyway…

I wouldn’t expect you to just boycott the app all the way, because it’s not easy letting go of the one app that works best for most of us. But, if you’re going to use the app to its full potential, it’s always better to secure it with an extra layer of protection.

There are many ways to protect your online privacy or from apps stealing your data, but the best way is by using a reliable VPN service. However, since Zoom comes with threats to security, you need to be extra careful when choosing a VPN to use over it.

VPN services come with flaws too, but that’s mainly because you’re not choosing the right ones. It doesn’t even have to be expensive, there are some cheap VPN services that offer the best features. A reliable VPN for Zoom needs to possess the following attributes:

  • First things first, end-to-end encryption. Since Zoom claims to offer it and does not in turn, the VPN you use has to have the highest AES 256-bit encryption standards.
  • Free trial is necessary for you to test the app and actually see the security infrastructure for yourself.
  • Look for other advanced features like a Kill Switch, GPS Spoofing, Split-Tunneling, DNS protection and more.
  • A reliable privacy policy that doesn’t store any user data. This is another important factor, considering Zoom is already logging your information and sharing it.
  • Supports zoom compatible devices like Windows, Android, iOS and macOS.

Besides a VPN…

Apart from this, other ways to use Zoom safely are much simpler than you think. All you need to do is avoid sharing any links or ID’s on any public forums, and avoid being visited by unknown guests. Make sure that each meeting or call is password protected and not left on public. Other than that, you need to also tweak your screen sharing settings to “Host only”.

There were many reports regarding multiple Zoom accounts being hacked, ID’s stolen and sold on the Dark web for a small price or even free.

If you leave your Zoom meetings to public, you could possibly fall victim to something called “Zoom-bombing”. There were so many cases reported to the FBI, regarding chat rooms and online meetings getting hijacked. The attackers left pornographic links, images and videos live for everyone to see before exiting the chat. These attacks were even targeted towards underage students during their online classes during the Pandemic.

Safer Zoom alternatives that you could try instead

Just because one communication app isn’t safe, doesn’t mean there aren’t other apps to try as safer alternatives. The following apps come with better encryption and security features and well, fulfil the purpose of replacing Zoom. They are:

    • Group FaceTime – if you’re looking for an app to call a group of 30, then Group FaceTime is the best for it. Plus, it does come with end-to-end encryption unlike…Zoom.
    • Google Meet – a great free app, best for business consumers, allows up to 250 to 100,000 participants.
    • GoToMeeting – very old app but effective and safe. This is best for smaller businesses or groups, no free app, requires you to download the app.
  • WhatsApp Video – lastly we have WhatsApp, which is best for tiny groups up till 4. It comes with the highest encryption standards, and not so easy to hack.

To conclude

Zoom may have been our go-to app that probably saved a lot of jobs, kept kids up to date with their education, or even connected families online during the Pandemic, but it doesn’t mean the app comes without fault. Yes, many software or apps have vulnerabilities, but keeping in mind the countless of reports, breaches and hacks related to Zoom, you need to think of a better and safer alternative. If not, there’s always running a reliable VPN service with it for a stronger encrypted connection.

Editor’s Note: Jade Nazareth is a writer for topvpnservice. She takes avid interest in writing cybersecurity how-to guides and blogs on reliable security software reviews. She aims to inform the general public about the need of cybersecurity measures.

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