German foreign ministry limits the use of Zoom over security concerns

The German foreign ministry has restricted the use of the video conferencing service Zoom due to concerns about security vulnerabilities recently discovered.

During Coronavirus pandemic video conferencing services have become a precious instrument for the people that worked or studied from home.

Zoom is one of the most popular video conferencing platforms, but recently privacy and security issues have raised a heated debate on its usage.

Zoom Conference Call

The FBI revealed to have received numerous reports of VTC hijacking (also called “Zoom-bombing”), victims have seen their conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language.

Malefactors have managed to gatecrash Zoom video calls, seize control of shared screens and post offensive content, a phenomenon known as “zoombombing”.

Yesterday Google has banned the popular videoconferencing software Zoom from its employees’ devices, and now the German foreign ministry has restricted the use of the video conferencing service to fixed-connection computers due to concerns about security issues.

According to the Reuters, the ban only impacts the use of the Zoom on mobile devices, citing sources informed of the decision.

In it important to clarify that confidential conversations were not to be carried on videoconferences because “they were not comprehensively encrypted”.

“The ministry adopted the restriction, also reported by the Handelsblatt newspaper, after concluding that Zoom’s software had “critical” weaknesses.” reads the post published by the Reuters.

According to one of the sources cited by the news agency, every ministry of the German government had a different position on the use of the Zoom platform.

“based on media reports and our own findings, we have concluded that Zoom’s software has critical weaknesses and serious security and data protection problems” reads a memo sent to the employees at the ministry that was obtained by the Handelsblatt newspaper.

The ban was only suggested by the ministry because many ministry’s international partners still use the Zoom service and it was currently impossible to completely abandon its use.

“Zoom takes user security extremely seriously,” a spokesman told the Reuters agency in an e-mailed statement. “Zoom is in communication with governments around the world and is focused on providing the information they need to make informed decisions about their policies.”

Other governments already banned the use of the Zoom platform due to security concerns, including Taiwan.

Pierluigi Paganini

April 13, 2020

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