At the time of this writing, about 20 per cent of the world’s population — or around 2 billion people — are on lockdown to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The shift from office to home was abrupt, with some employees given less than 24 hours’ notice that they would be working remotely.
That has exposed numerous cybersecurity vulnerabilities, made apparent in a recent small-scale survey by CNBC, which suggests phishing scams and spam are on the rise.
The breaches are happening for a few reasons. For starters, some employees are adjusting to working at home for the first time. Companies that rushed the transition may not have implemented security measures, forcing some people to access sensitive information on personal computers and phones and with the use of vulnerable Wi-Fi systems.
Another reason? some people are using software that may not be up to the task.
One example of this is the teleconferencing platform Zoom, which made headlines when the FBI warned the public about intruders hacking into people’s conferences to display racial slurs or pornography.
Employers have taken notice and now, Google has banned the software on employee devices.
According to BuzzFeed, Google told employees the software posed a security risk and it would stop working on company-issued devices this week.
“We have long had a policy of not allowing employees to use unapproved apps for work that are outside of our corporate network,” Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News.
“Recently, our security team informed employees using Zoom Desktop Client that it will no longer run on corporate computers as it does not meet our security standards for apps used by our employees. Employees who have been using Zoom to stay in touch with family and friends can continue to do so through a web browser or via mobile.”
Other companies phasing out Zoom
Google isn’t the first, and probably won’t be the last, to phase out Zoom. SpaceX made a similar move this month after expressing unease with the platform’s “significant privacy and security concerns” and New York City’s Department of Education is encouraging schools to use alternative services.
Grew too fast?
While relatively unheard of a year ago, Zoom was poised to become one of the most-used apps of the year with schools, businesses, and friends making it their pandemic teleconferencing software of choice.
In December 2019, Zoom says it had about 10 million daily users, but that exploded to 200 million daily users in March when the borders shut down and the world went into lockdown.
In a blog post, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan apologized for the security breaches and said the company is working to secure the platform.
“We did not design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying, and socializing from home,” he wrote.
“We now have a much broader set of users who are utilizing our product in a myriad of unexpected ways, presenting us with challenges we did not anticipate when the platform was conceived.
“[We] recognize that we have fallen short of the community’s – and our own – privacy and security expectation. For that, I am deeply sorry.”