The Zoom boom and bust

By Christopher Harper

After the disclosure of deep ties to China and massive disruptions of online meetings, the Zoom boom may be a bust.

I’ve never been a fan of Zoom since I started using it about six months ago for an online class I teach.

For some reason, Temple University recently changed from Webex, a product similar to Zoom that was built by Cisco. No one I asked seemed to know why the change happened. But it probably had to do with the lower cost of Zoom at $19.99 a month vs. $26.95 for Webex. Both services offer free individual downloads.

Now everyone should know about the hazards of using Zoom, particularly after a legal investigation in New York and an FBI warning.

Zoom names every video recording in a similar way, so a simple online search can reveal a long stream of videos.

News organizations and others were able to watch a variety of videos that included therapy sessions; a training orientation for workers doing conferences that included people’s names and phone numbers; small-business meetings that included private company financial statements; and elementary school classes, in which children’s faces, voices, and personal details were exposed.

Many of the videos include personal information and ntimate conversations, recorded in people’s homes. Other videos include nudity.

But there’s more. The inadequate security enabled hackers to join meetings, known as Zoom bombing, to disrupt them with obscene materials and profanity.

But there’s even more. The founder of Zoom is from China and backs up some of the information on servers there. Moreover, a major part of Zoom’s research and development occurs in China, which is likely to have some means of cracking the codes.

I have stopped using Zoom, but I have been unable to convince my colleagues that the program is a bad idea.

I don’t agree with Elon Musk and New York City about much of anything. But both of them have at least banned the use of Zoom over privacy and security issues. I also don’t trust the founder of Zoom to fix the issues any time soon.

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