Google is issuing a ban on the use of the Zoom teleconferencing platform for employees. The company is citing security concerns with the app that have arisen since Zoom became one of the most popular services for free video chatting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The news was first reported by BuzzFeed News earlier today.
Google emailed employees last week about the ban, telling workers who had the Zoom app installed on their Google-provided machines that the software would soon no longer function. It is worth noting that Google offers its own enterprise Zoom competitor called Meet as part of its G Suite offering.
“We have long had a policy of not allowing employees to use unapproved apps for work that are outside of our corporate network,” Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda tells The Verge. “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.”
Even well before the COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on Zoom’s vulnerabilities, the company was facing criticism for lax privacy and security protections, like in July of last year when a macOS flaw allowed a Zoom URL to forcibly activate a MacBook webcam.
Since Zoom has emerged as a leading teleconferencing provider during the pandemic, however, the platform’s litany of other issues have been magnified, especially around the ease with which random strangers can locate and jump into Zoom calls. The practice is now known as “Zoombombing,” and the FBI says it will prosecute people for it. Part of the reason is due to Zoom never having been designed for consumer use at this scale; the company said earlier this month that it grew from 10 million to 200 million users in the past three months.
Other issues have included exposed Zoom recordings, undisclosed data sharing with Facebook, exposed LinkedIn profiles, and a “malware-like” installer for macOS. The company now faces a full-blown privacy and security backlash. Zoom has responded by racing to plug holes and beef up its consumer and corporate protections to stave off stiff competition from Microsoft Teams and Skype, Google’s G Suite apps, and other more traditional teleconferencing providers. Zoom said earlier this month that it would pause new features for 90 days to focus on privacy and security.