Video-conferencing service Zoom, which was created for webinars and corporate meetings and has become the lifeline for the Work from Home (WfH) crowd, has been declared not safe for use by the Indian government.
A 16-page advisory issued by the Cyber Coordination Centre (CyCord) under the Ministry of Home Affairs says that “Zoom is not a safe platform”. It refers to the advisories issued by India’s nodal cyber security agency, Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in), which had warned against the service over safety and privacy concerns. CERT-in had said that the service had weaknesses which made its users vulnerable to cyberattacks.
The new guidelines state that Zoom is not to be used by government offices/officials for official purposes. The guidelines “have been issued to safeguard private individuals who would still like to use the platform for private purposes”, the release said. Earlier, Google had reportedly banned Zoom from employees’ computers, citing security vulnerabilities.
The broad objective of this advisory, the release said, “is to prevent any unauthorized entry into a Zoom Conference Room and prevent the unauthorized participant to carry out malicious attacks on the terminals of other users in the conference”.
The guidelines are as follows:
* Create a new password and user ID for every meeting
* Enable the waiting room feature, so that a user can enter only after the host conducting the meeting allows it
* Disable ‘join before host’ feature
* Allow only the host to share the screen
* Disable 'Allow removed participants to re-join'
* Restrict or disable the file transfer option
* ‘Lock’ a meeting after all attendees have joined
* Restrict the recording feature
* The administrator should end the meeting, not just leave
Zoom has become immensely popular since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to social distancing norms, the service has been used to host meetings, hold classes for school and college students, and not to mention virtual family or school get-togethers. As a result the company claimed to have seen a maximum of 200 million daily meetings in March. But it has also faced security and privacy issues as it became more widely used, prompting the government to come out with the guidelines.
When asked for a comment, a Zoom spokesperson told Fortune India: “Zoom takes user security extremely seriously. A large number of global institutions ranging from the world’s largest financial services companies and telecommunications providers, to non-governmental organisations and government agencies, have done exhaustive security reviews of our user, network and datacentre layers and continue to use Zoom for most or all of their unified communications needs.”