Zoom is not safe, says MHA in new guidelines; issues advisory for individuals

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

Published: April 16, 2020 5:39:18 pm

Zoom is not safe, says MHA in new guidelines; issues advisory for individuals who still want to use the service. (Image source: Reuters)

The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a new statement along with a set of guidelines declaring that Zoom, the popular video meeting service, is not safe for use. Earlier, India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert In) had also posted an advisory against Zoom over safety and privacy concerns.

In a new state of guidelines, MHA has said that Zoom is not to be used by government offices/officials for official purposes. The guidelines state that those private individuals who wish to use the service can do so, but they will need to keep some features in mind to ensure safety. We have reached out to Zoom for an update on this statement from the MHA.

Zoom has seen its popularity soar thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.   Across the world, Zoom is being used by many individuals and enterprises to host meetings, even classes for schools and colleges as social distancing norms have come into place in many countries. In India, there is an official lockdown till May 3. Zoom claims to have seen a maximum of 200 million daily meetings in March, since the COVID-19 pandemic began to grow. However, the app has also been plagued by privacy and security issues ever since it gained popularity.

Reports of Zoombombing have highlighted a disturbing side for many Zoom calls with uninvited participants creating havoc in some meetings. However, Zoom has taken steps to curb this problem by making features such as Waiting Room a default option. Still it should be noted that Zoom calls are not end-to-end encrypted, which raises concerns especially when enterprises are relying on the service. There were also reports that the app was leaking emails of users.

Read our guide to secure your Zoom meetings | How to look good and hide that messy room during a Zoom Meeting |  Zoom’s boom coincides with spike in bugs, vulnerabilities and privacy issues; what you need to know |

MHA’s guidelines for Zoom users

According to the announcement, “the broad objective of the document is to enable/disable certain settings to prevent unauthorised entry in the conference room” and to ensure that no participant can carry out malicious activities on the terminals of other in the conference.

The guidelines ask users to set a new user ID and password for each meeting, and to enable waiting room feature so that users can only enter when the host allows them. It should be noted that Zoom has enabled the feature by default on calls. The guidelines also say that only hosts should be doing Screen sharing.

They also ask users to disable the option to allow removed participants to re-join and that file transfer options should be restricted or disabled. Hosts are also advised to lock meetings once all the attendees have joined and asked to restrict the recording feature.

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