If you're stuck at home and spend time reading about technology, you probably heard how Zoom is some evil entity intent on stealing away your life and doing something equally evil to you if you use it. Labels like malware get thrown around and we hear about every single mistake the company has made. And there are a lot of them to be sure.
The thing is, Zoom is also really easy to use. Usually, the easier a thing is to use, the less secure it will be and Zoom is the poster child for that slogan. But right now, the world needs easy to use just as much as it needs secure and that's why there is space for software like Zoom in the lives of plenty of people.
Zoom - has bugs like all other software.— thaddeus e. grugq (@thegrugq) April 2, 2020
Zoom - fixing bugs and being responsible.
Zoom - software I easily taught my dad to use for remote classes over email and WhatsApp.
Zoom - not rated for sensitive data: natsec, confidential sources, etc.
Zoom - use it, it's fine.
I don't use Zoom nor do I particularly like the software. But that's because I think WebRTC and a properly coded website can do a better job and doesn't need any sort of installer. Don't at me with Hangouts Meet or Hangouts Chat or whatever it's called now though because it needs to be open to everyone and easy to create and share a chat. I'm in several Meet meetings each week and can tell you it's neither.
Now that I've gone ahead and said I don't care to use Zoom, let me say I would definitely recommend it to friends and family. Start by telling them some simple rules about meetings:
- Only invite the people you want to talk to.
- Let Zoom build the meeting ID and never use any personal ID.
- Use the password settings.
- Know that someone could wander in and say or do something horrible.
This will keep almost everyone else out of your chat with mom about good lasagna recipes, telling your BFF how much you miss Friday drinking nights, or talking about anything because you really want some sort of human contact. The worst-case scenario is someone gets in and won't stop talking crap or flashing their junk and you all leave and build a new meeting.
The important thing is that these few things to remember are dead simple and you could teach anyone how to operate Zoom in just a few minutes.
Maybe even more important is that Zoom is listening. The company has done some really stupid things, like trying to bypass macOS security in its installer or trying to redefine end to end encryption. But they also have done some quick work to address the issues people are finding. The company recently did a Q&A session with its founder Eric Yuan all about privacy concerns.
It's also worth remembering that security researchers are sitting at home with nothing to do and are loving having a new piece of software explode onto the scene. It's difficult to imagine how other "enterprise" grade solutions would hold up under this much scrutiny.
There are more secure video conferencing solutions out there. But Zoom is easy to use, and easy to teach someone else how to use. As long as you don't think it's absolutely private, don't worry about it and use it while we try to figure out how to survive at home every day.
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