“Meeting bombing is an end-user behaviour pattern”
Voice and Data|May, 2020
“Meeting bombing is an end-user behaviour pattern”
COVID-19 crisis has turned out to be a game-changer for many companies. While some companies have seen their business model tumble, few others, including the collaboration and communication solution and service providers have seen their numbers swelling. The one that leads the pack is Zoom, whose number of average per day users grew from 10 million in December 2019 to 300 million by April 2020. This, despite some major security gaps and concern about some Zoom calls being routed through data centers in China. In a video-call with Shubhendu Parth, Zoom Video Communications India head Sameer Rajeev talks about the security issues, its 90-day plans to plug these, Keybase acquisition, and the Version 5.0.

Sameer Rajee

India Head, Zoom Video Communications

Shubhendu Parth (SP): Eric Yuan had earlier stated that Zoom was not geared to handle such a massive surge in user volume. What steps has the company since then taken to augment its capacity?

Sameer Raje (SR): I think it would be fair to say that nobody had really imagined that all of us would be working and socializing from home. So yes, it is absolutely true that we had not imagined that every second or third person in the world would start using Zoom or a virtual platform to socialize, or to meet and collaborate.

During this period, we have seen different kind of users coming on board—young kids and schools, and users who had never used collaboration platforms. These first-time users are bringing in our new use cases. I read an article that some marriages in India were happening on Zoom. We had not anticipated that Zoom would be a platform for people to get married. And then there are people hosting a get-together with family and friends. We did not anticipate this either.

So there are a few things to be done. One, we need to be absolutely sure that users coming on our collaboration platform are using it in the right way. For young, under 16 years’ users, it is important to enforce certain discipline and parental control. Hence, under-16 kids cannot sign up for a Zoom account without permission from the school or parents. Next, is the technical aspect to deal with where we need to ensure that there is no downtime in service.

While all new users are coming and the entire traffic is piling on and we’re scaling up, we want to ensure that not only our services remain up 24x7, but we are also able to enhance the security and privacy level of our platform.

SP: And What Is Zoom Doing On This Front?

SR: We have embarked on coaching, guiding, and training the individual users and also mandating certain rules. For example, while starting a meeting one needs to initiate it with a password. We have set up a CISO counsel and a 90-day plan where we’ve decided to freeze all our future feature roadmap, but focusing purely on security and privacy aspects where we are enhancing our platform from what it was to make it even more robust, secure and private.

While these things will keep happening, the external third party agencies and CISOs are advising us and conducting the requisite tests to ensure that everything is safe and sound. Whatever the gaps they report will be actively bridged. That is our focus during this period.

SP: Is the acquisition of Keybase part of the 90-day plan to fix security issues? How will it help Zoom strengthen the security of the platform?

SR: Keybase, with over two dozen world-class security and encryption engineers, will hit the ground running, continuing the development and implementation of features and standards that will make Zoom the industry leader in security and privacy. This will help us build end-to-end encryption into the Zoom platform. Our goal is to build Zoom’s security and encryption capabilities with help from Keybase’s world-class engineers. While we will also own the Keybase product, we expect that it will remain separate from Zoom’s offerings.

SP: The company recently released its version 5.0 which includes encryption and new privacy controls. What makes the new version safer?

SR: The most important feature of the new version is the enhanced level of encryption. We have now migrated to the AES 256-bit GCM encryption, which is probably the latest, most secure, and used by very few players in the industry. So that’s one of the key developments that we have brought in. Besides, there are other features and functionality. For example, the enhancement of the security tab for the host to lock the room or deal with the security aspects of the meeting.

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May, 2020