from the tell-us-your-stories dept.
"I was on a call last week and a colleague's half-naked boyfriend walked behind her," recalls communications consultant Jason Nisse.
His experience illustrates the pitfalls of videoconferencing, a technology that thousands of workers are getting used to as they attempt to work from home.
In one (genuine) email doing the rounds, a financial services worker is told: "Your screen is visible and we can all see you watching porn in between enquiries."
Teleconferencing apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet are reporting dramatic user increases.
For many of us, this means getting to grips with a whole new way of working. Line quality, technology problems and of course user ineptitude add kerfuffle to meetings. Making sure everyone understands how the technology works can save a huge amount of time when it comes to the meeting going live.
Some bosses have also realised that conference calls show just how meetings are populated with staff who don't really need to be there. Cutting down the number of people involved also cuts down on the amount of unwanted noise.
Heavy breathing, sniffing, coughing, dogs and doorbells can all be dispatched by shutting off the microphone with the mute button.
Even without video, conference calls can be revealing.
"I remember a client was on a call while in the bath, and you could hear splashing and the tap running. He then realised the microphone was on and the phone slipped into the bath. Gurgle gurgle gurgle. He jumped out the bath to get another phone, slid and fell down the stairs," recalls Neil Henderson from Zurich Insurance.
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In a statement late Friday, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan admitted to mistakenly routing calls via China.
"In our urgency to come to the aid of people around the world during this unprecedented pandemic, we added server capacity and deployed it quickly — starting in China, where the outbreak began," Yuan said. "In that process, we failed to fully implement our usual geo-fencing best practices. As a result, it is possible certain meetings were allowed to connect to systems in China, where they should not have been able to connect."
He did not say how many users were affected.
During spells of heavy traffic, the video-conferencing service shifts traffic to the nearest data center with the largest available capacity – but Zoom's data centers in China aren't supposed to be used to reroute non-Chinese users' calls.
This is largely due to privacy concerns: China does not enforce strict data privacy laws and could conceivably demand that Zoom decrypt the contents of encrypted calls.
Separately, researchers at the University of Toronto also found Zoom's encryption used keys issued via servers in China, even when call participants were outside of China.
[...] Zoom has faced multiple high-profile security issues in recent weeks as it struggles to cope with an unprecedented surge in traffic and new users.
Zoom did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment and clarification.