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Zoom gets a new privacy feature it's needed since day one

Zoom
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Zoom has made a small but long overdue change to its app's interface, which should help users avoid falling victim to 'Zoom-bombing', where unwanted and unexpected guests join a call for the sole purpose of annoying its participants.

Zoom has become enormously popular in recent weeks as companies shut down offices and shift to employees working from home and relying on video conferencing software for meetings.

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This sudden explosion in popularity has led to the discovery (and rapid exploitation) of several security weaknesses that had previously gone unnoticed.

To its credit, Zoom responded quickly to reports of troublemakers invading meetings, and recently rolled out several changes to make conferences more secure. All Zoom meetings are now password-protected (whereas previously anyone with the meeting link could join) and a virtual waiting room feature is now enabled by default, meaning people can only join when given permission by the host. 

By invitation only

Several governments, companies and other organizations have already decided to ban use of Zoom for official business due to security concerns. The government of Taiwan, the UK Ministry of Defence, NASA, Space X and Google's parent company Alphabet have all chosen to take their video conferencing needs elsewhere.

Meanwhile, in the US, Zoom-bombing is now a federal offense, and anyone caught invading a video call without permission could face jail time.

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"Charges may include – to name just a few – disrupting a public meeting, computer intrusion, using a computer to commit a crime, hate crimes, fraud, or transmitting threatening communications," the US Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Michigan said in a press release. "All of these charges are punishable by fines and imprisonment.”

For the many millions of people still relying on Zoom, it's heartening to see the company moving so quickly to tackle security issues. Hopefully its security will be tightened further still as lockdowns are extended and video conferencing is cemented as the 'new normal'.