Zoom, the rapidly-growing videoconferencing giant, announced it is hiring former Facebook security boss Alex Stamos as a consultant, in a move that appears to be a response to the criticism the firm has faced for lax security as coronavirus quarantine has resulted in a surge of popularity for Zoom.
Alex Stamos, who led security at Facebook until 2018, said in a blog post that he was approached by Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan about joining Zoom as an outside consultant after Stamos posted a Twitter thread about how the company could address their security flaws.
Stamos said he took the job, in part, because of how important Zoom has become for day-to-day life for people in coronavirus quarantine; however, the app has been plagued by complaints of “zoom bombing,” or video conferences being hacked that has resulted in abuse of users.
Zoom recently ranked as the top pick among all free apps on Apple AAPL’s App Store, ahead of Google GOOGL, WhatsApp and even Gen Z favorite TikTok, with millions relying on Zoom software to take part in school, social events and even yoga classes.
Inviting Stamos on board is part of Zoom’s 90-day plan to beef up its security, which has seen the company press pause on developing new features in order to focus resources toward security and boost its bug bounty program, which incentivises hackers to find and report security vulnerabilities—Yuan said in a statement Zoom will also release transparency reports.
“I’m certain that the real challenge, one faced by every company trying to provide for the diverse needs of millions seeking low-friction collaboration, is how to empower one’s customers without empowering those who wish to abuse them,” Stamos said in a blog post. “This is possibly the most impactful challenge faced by the tech industry in the age of [coronavirus], and together we can make something positive out of these difficult times and ensure that communications are safer and more secure for all.”
Key background: The news of Stamos’ hiring comes after Zoom has faced substantial criticism of privacy pitfalls, including reports of user data being sent to China and video chats falling victim to “zoom bombing,” or the hacking of videoconferences, so frequently that the FBI had to release guidance to prevent them. NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX have both opted to ban Zoom from being used internally, while Taiwan and Germany have also put restrictions on its use, according to Reuters.
Yuan recently made the Forbes Billionaires List for the first time this week, worth an estimated $5.7 billion worth.
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