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Germany bans Zoom for official use

Zoom meeting
(Image credit: Zoom Video Communications)

Parts of the German government have blocked the use of Zoom following concerns around its privacy and security protection.

Officials at the German Foreign Ministry have had their use of Zoom restricted following a government memo warning about the risks in using the software.

Amid the coronavirus-led lockdowns, Zoom and other teleconferencing apps have experienced a spike in usage.  However, the company has faced severe backlash after reports surfaced of traffic being routed through China, Zoombombing, a lack of proper security measures and other privacy-related issues.

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According to the Handelsblatt newspaper, Zoom was already being widely used across the ministry’s international partners, meaning it would be difficult to ban its use completely, so employees could log on using private machines for professional purposes if there was a crisis.

“Based on media reports and our own findings we have concluded that Zoom’s software has critical weaknesses and serious security and data protection problems,” the memo read.

Zoom ban

The move comes hours after Taiwan’s government said it would avoid using Zoom due to a number of security and privacy concerns, suggesting that alternative applications from competitors like Microsoft and Google are safer. 

As China doesn’t acknowledge Taiwan as an independent state, official data being relayed through China is considered as a privacy threat for the nation.

A statement issued by the Taiwanese Department of Cyber Security states, “if the organization must use non-domestically produced software for international exchanges or some other special situation, many global and communication giants—like Google and Microsoft—are offering such technology for free amid the current pandemic.”

“Organizations should consider these options after evaluating any associated data security risks,” it added.

Zoom, which saw its user base balloon to 200 million in March, had been struggling to control the spike in usage. The company admitted that it had mistakenly routed data through Chinese servers and has clarified that it has stopped using the backup servers for non-Chinese customers.

Similarly, reports of Zoom calls not being end-to-end encrypted, hackers being able to eavesdrop into calls, records of meetings available publicly on the internet, and un-invited attendee’s able to hijack calls caused major concerns globally.

Elsewhere, various schools in the United States have also switched to Microsoft Teams for remote classes and banned Zoom immediately. Even Elon Musk’s SpaceX has barred the usage of Zoom by its officials and Canada's electronic surveillance agency also didn’t approve the platform for “any government discussions that require secure communications.”

Last week, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan apologized for the incidents, and announced that the company will stop working on new features to focus on securing the platform. 

Zoom’s market value has been reduced by one-third since it registered a record high in late March and its shares also experienced a drop by one per cent in pre-market trading on the Nasdaq.

Via: Bloomberg, Reuters