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Business & Data Protection

Is your personal data safe on Zoom?

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Over the course of the Pandemic, Zoom, together with other video conferencing applications, has become an indispensable business tool. But the platform has been beset by reports of a number of security and privacy problems.  “Zoom bombing”, where a private Zoom meeting is hijacked by uninvited outsiders (or even invited participants), who disrupt or post offensive material within the meeting, has affected a growing number of users.

Better security measures, both within the platform and applied by meeting organisers, seems to have largely resolved this particular problem but others are still only partially resolved, or not at all. A helpful article on the Tom’s guide website (Zoom security issues: Here’s everything that’s gone wrong (so far) | Tom’s Guide) provides a detailed, and quite lengthy, list of the issues and their current status.

As with the recent report about the Estate Agent’s video of a house in Devon that showed a large quantity of the personal data of the house owners, using a video conference facility needs some prior thought and planning.  Apart from your personal appearance and positioning, what else is visible on screen when you have your camera on?  If it includes personal material such as family photographs or confidential documents, or items such as an asthma inhaler or a stairlift that would indicate particular heath problems, it would be very sensible to make sure that these cannot be seen.

If a business wishes to introduce some new technology it should carry out a detailed data privacy impact assessment.  At a more basic level, some simple pre-planning and checks can and should be applied by individuals as well. Use of passwords and two-factor authentication are recommended.  Of course, these steps will only help if the Zoom bomber is not invited.  It seems that increasing numbers of meeting-disrupters are invited participants, so in those cases there need to be effective steps for such participants to be muted or removed from the meeting.  Since November 2020 Zoom has now improved its functionality on these issues.

The article concludes that Zoom is much safer than it was, and that the problems it has experienced and had to resolve have helped to make it a safer and better video conference platform.  So the message is to carry on using Zoom, but just take some sensible precautions to minimise the risks of inadvertent or unauthorised disclosure of personal data.

https://www.tomsguide.com/uk/news/zoom-security-privacy-woes#:~:text=Is%20Zoom%20unsafe%20to%20use,patient%2C%20Zoom%20should%20be%20fine.&text=Kids%20will%20probably%20continue%20to,use%20Snapchat%20filters%20on%20Zoom.

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Patrick Wheeler

Partner - Head of IP & Data Protection

patrick.wheeler@collyerbristow.com