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Defusing the Zoom-bomb: How Zoom Overcame Privacy Concerns in the Wake of COVID-19

January 7, 2021


In a year unlike any other, Zoom has played a central role in how business have operated during a global pandemic. As 2020 comes to a close the way the company handled security concerns in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, has resulted in increased consumer trust, widespread use, and satisfaction.

As recently reported by Yahoo News, in its last four fiscal quarters, the company saw year-over-year revenue growth of 78%, 169%, 355%, and 367%. The rise of Zoom also included a rise in “Zoom-bombing”. Given that passwords and waiting rooms for users were turned off by default, the ability of strangers to join meetings posed huge privacy concerns. Users noted other issues and security flaws as they struggled to adapt to working, learning, and living from home. It turned out that the end-to-end encryption touted by the company, did not exist. These issues threatened to derail the company’s success in the early days of COVID-19.

Many of the issues stemmed from the fact that Zoom was designed for business use. Pre-pandemic, Zoom’s daily users peaked at 10 million, but by April 2020, the number of Zoom users rose to more than 300 million per day. The tool was being re-purposed for everything from teaching, to cocktail parties, to weddings. As use of the platform increased and evolved, the company noted user concerns and realized they needed to adapt quickly. For four months beginning in April 2020 the company focused exclusively on addressing privacy issues. The strategy also included hiring a new Chief Information Security Officer.

CEO Eric Yuan expects one day, real time voice translation could allow people speaking different languages to have live conversations on Zoom. He also suggests Zoom could generate summaries of meetings after they have occurred. Though these advanced capabilities will likely pose more security challenges, Zoom has earned consumer trust and positioned themselves as a company ready to tackle them head on.

As COVID-19 continues to influence consumer behaviour and shine a light on corporate privacy, data, and security practices, companies may look to Zoom’s approach as a model for overcoming similar challenges.

Author: Emma Baumann


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