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Zoom will seek public feedback on plan for stronger encryption

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Zoom Video Communications said it will share details on May 22 of its plan to offer users end-to-end encryption, seeking to quell concerns that the popular conferencing tool has lax security practices.

[SAN FRANCISCO] Zoom Video Communications said it will share details on May 22 of its plan to offer users end-to-end encryption, seeking to quell concerns that the popular conferencing tool has lax security practices.

Zoom will seek public feedback on its encryption design before implementing the stepped-up procedures, executives said Wednesday during a weekly webinar focused on security. End-to-end encryption, the highest standard of digital communications security, makes messages, video, audio and photos impossible to decipher by third parties. The results of Zoom's public review will help determine when end-to-end encryption becomes available for meeting participants.

San Jose, California-based Zoom will bolster security for all users on May 30 with GCM-level encryption, which is lower than the end-to-end standard. The company will also let hosts prevent participants from accessing a single meeting through multiple devices. These changes are part of the company's pledge to conduct a three-month security review.

Zoom has leaped to the forefront of video-meeting apps from a little-known business enterprise tool as millions of people have been forced home by the coronavirus pandemic. The company has been lambasted for a variety of security lapses, including users unknowingly sending data to Facebook when they logged into Zoom and some calls being routed through China even though no participant was based there. Concerns that the Chinese government may be snooping on some sensitive Zoom meetings has made encryption a key pillar of the effort to restore the company's reputation. The software maker bought secure-messaging provider Keybase last week to harness the startup's encryption expertise. Max Krohn, the co-founder of Keybase, is now head of security engineering at Zoom and will play an instrumental role encrypting the company's platform.

Zoom shares increased 3 per cent to US$165.86 at 3.06pm in New York while the broader markets slumped. The stock has more than doubled this year.

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