Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday April 04 2020, @03:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the thus-spoke-Schneier dept.

Security and Privacy Implications of Zoom - Schneier on Security:

Over the past few weeks, Zoom's use has exploded since it became the video conferencing platform of choice in today's COVID-19 world. (My own university, Harvard, uses it for all of its classes. Boris Johnson had a cabinet meeting over Zoom.) Over that same period, the company has been exposed for having both lousy privacy and lousy security. My goal here is to summarize all of the problems and talk about solutions and workarounds.

In general, Zoom's problems fall into three broad buckets: (1) bad privacy practices, (2) bad security practices, and (3) bad user configurations.

Privacy first: Zoom spies on its users for personal profit. It seems to have cleaned this up somewhat since everyone started paying attention, but it still does it.

Now security: Zoom's security is at best sloppy, and malicious at worst. Motherboard reported that Zoom's iPhone app was sending user data to Facebook, even if the user didn't have a Facebook account. Zoom removed the feature, but its response should worry you about its sloppy coding practices in general:

"We originally implemented the 'Login with Facebook' feature using the Facebook SDK in order to provide our users with another convenient way to access our platform. However, we were recently made aware that the Facebook SDK was collecting unnecessary device data," Zoom told Motherboard in a statement on Friday.

Finally, bad user configuration. Zoom has a lot of options. The defaults aren't great, and if you don't configure your meetings right you're leaving yourself open to all sort of mischief.

Zoom is a security and privacy disaster, but until now had managed to avoid public accountability because it was relatively obscure. Now that it's in the spotlight, it's all coming out. (Their 4/1 response to all of this is here.) On 4/2, the company said it would freeze all feature development and focus on security and privacy. Let's see if that's anything more than a PR move.

Previously:
(2020-04-02) Elon Musk's SpaceX Bans Zoom over Privacy Concerns
(2020-03-28) Now That Everyone's Using Zoom, Here Are Some Privacy Risks You Need to Watch Out For
(2020-03-27) School Quits Video Calls After Naked Man ‘Guessed’ the Meeting Link
(2020-03-23) Work from Home Pwn2Own Hackers Make $130,000 in 48 Hours from Windows 10 Exploits
(2020-03-21) Homeschooling Resources
(2020-03-14) Student Privacy Laws Still Apply if Coronavirus Just Closed Your School


Original Submission

 
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
(1)
  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:00PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:00PM (#979048)

    Wait until the next release of systemd which has videoconferencing built in. Poettering's already got the audio driver written.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:26AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:26AM (#979242)

      Oh yeah, I can't wait, systemd - Now featuring GNU/LINUX

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:00PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:00PM (#979049)

    The concepts were too old, they died of COVID infection.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by gtomorrow on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:04PM (14 children)

    by gtomorrow (2230) on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:04PM (#979051)

    ...how can this Zoom app (which honestly I'd never even heard of until this global quarantine) can "come out of nowhere"* and have so many active users while "nobody" uses Signal, which has the same functions and has security built in?! Even Whatsapp would be better than Zoom. For Pete's sake, even Skype!

    * Yes, I know, Zoom exists since 2011

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:43PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:43PM (#979066)

      They bought lots of media coverage. Then toilet paper effect happens. Now they pay price for lying.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:46PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:46PM (#979067)

      It's a Khazar Jew spy tool. Zoom paid the Jewish media to promote it and now Mossad gets to view everything done on it.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:52PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:52PM (#979070)

        SoylentNews is Jewish media?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @10:24PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @10:24PM (#979155)

          SoylentJews

      • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Ethanol-fueled on Saturday April 04 2020, @10:47PM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Saturday April 04 2020, @10:47PM (#979162) Homepage

        It's a Chink spy tool.

        Khazar Jews already get everything direct from the NSA and the "management engines" of your computers.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @06:25PM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @06:25PM (#979091)

      Neither Skype not Signal were designed for large (20+) conference calls, I don't know if it even works.
      Signal also requires you to have a phone number (and not sure you can use it on your desktop at all for video calls), so it seems entirely useless for this use-case, I have no idea why you would claim it has the same features?

      • (Score: 2) by gtomorrow on Saturday April 04 2020, @07:42PM (2 children)

        by gtomorrow (2230) on Saturday April 04 2020, @07:42PM (#979107)

        I stand corrected. I wasn't aware of its en masse privacy-rape capability. Signal/Whatsapp/Skype all handle ~4-6 participants if I'm not mistaken.

        • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:24AM (1 child)

          by Grishnakh (2831) on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:24AM (#979239)

          4-6 participants is useless when you're trying to do a department-wide conference call, or any other large group activity.

          • (Score: 2) by gtomorrow on Sunday April 05 2020, @09:08AM

            by gtomorrow (2230) on Sunday April 05 2020, @09:08AM (#979332)

            Yeah...I get it. Easy, killer.

      • (Score: 2) by dw861 on Monday April 06 2020, @01:03AM (1 child)

        by dw861 (1561) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 06 2020, @01:03AM (#979534) Journal

        For what it is worth, Skype will support 50 people on its group calls. Only half that of Zoom.
        https://www.skype.com/en/features/group-video-chat/ [skype.com]

        Frustratingly, Zoom is now being used for things that, until quite recently, simply happened on the phone. I don't understand this. Possibly some people are simply that starved for visual human contact.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 06 2020, @08:11PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 06 2020, @08:11PM (#979753)

          It is because bosses don't trust the workers. When they are on the phone, the employee can have them on speakerphone and muted and do whatever they like. With the webcam, the boss can be better assured you are actually paying attention.

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @07:41PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @07:41PM (#979106)

      They've slowly took over because back when they started, they really did do most things better. Then it was just the network effect of people recommending it over the alternatives. In addition, they heavily invested in the educational space. This means all the new graduates got used to Zoom and brought it to their new jobs. Now that many companies are required to use some sort of teleconference software, its no real surprise they chose this one.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:05AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:05AM (#979229)

      Signal does not run on Desktop. They have a Linux/Mac/Windows client, but it requires installing on a smartphone first, and any use of the software requires confirming a phone number. It's totally unusable for me.

      I'm looking for free/open source software that can do low-latency high-framerate screen sharing. But Signal is not it.

      • (Score: 2) by gtomorrow on Sunday April 05 2020, @09:15AM

        by gtomorrow (2230) on Sunday April 05 2020, @09:15AM (#979334)

        Signal does not run on Desktop.

        ...and then you say...

        They have a Linux/Mac/Windows client

        🤔 Lay off the "controlled substances" when posting. In regards to requiring a phone number, well, you decide what's right for you. Then again, Google/Apple/Facebook/Ebay/Paypal/ad infinitum is busting my chops continually for a phone number too.

        I'm looking for a tool that will merge two pieces of metal via an intense heat. But a hammer is not it.

  • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:04PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:04PM (#979052)

    Who gives a shit? Many, and probably most, of us here have never heard of this software before covid.

    Stop feeding into news meme cycles. Cover something more interesting. Or... just don't post anything if there are no good stories.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:09PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @04:09PM (#979053)

    China is asshole! [theintercept.com]

    Zoom may be legally obligated to share encryption keys with Chinese authorities if the keys are generated on a key management server hosted in China.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @07:01PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04 2020, @07:01PM (#979098)

    Don't use non-free proprietary user-subjugating software. Sure, they could improve the security of the software against outside actors, but when you use proprietary software, the developers are your masters. It's possible for them to change the software at any time to add more malicious functionality or simply refuse to fix existing malicious functionality, and all you can do is stop using, which everyone should do anyway.

    • (Score: 2) by gtomorrow on Saturday April 04 2020, @07:44PM

      by gtomorrow (2230) on Saturday April 04 2020, @07:44PM (#979108)

      -1 Preaching to the choir

    • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Saturday April 04 2020, @08:08PM

      by MostCynical (2589) on Saturday April 04 2020, @08:08PM (#979123) Journal

      People wil use whatever is easiest, or whatever their friends are using, so long as it isn't too difficult.

      People are 1. Lazy and 2. Herd-like
      if there is something "better" out there, what is it?

      --
      "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:27AM (1 child)

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:27AM (#979243)

      Free software is great if it's actually available as a workable alternative. But for some functions, Free alternatives simply do not exist, and I'm pretty sure this is one of them. Generally speaking, any service that requires software running on a heavy-duty server connected to the internet with a fat pipe is not going to have any kind of Free alternative: it isn't just the software you need, you need the hardware infrastructure as well, and no one's going to run all that stuff for free.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:55AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:55AM (#979258)

        Free software is great if it's actually available as a workable alternative.

        To me, freedom is a must. If no suitable Free Software exists for some task, then I still won't use proprietary software.

        But even when Free Software exists to fulfill some purpose, people complain that it doesn't have enough "features," which is how you know they're completely missing the point. This is one of those cases.

        Schools in particular should never use proprietary software, since it's completely antithetical to independence and education, which are values that schools should promote.

        and no one's going to run all that stuff for free.

        Unnecessary. They could charge for the use of their hardware itself, even if the software is Free Software.

        Though, doing too much of your computing on someone else's computers has other obvious issues.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by arubaro on Saturday April 04 2020, @10:44PM (1 child)

    by arubaro (8601) on Saturday April 04 2020, @10:44PM (#979161)

    i am a professor at an university without a big budget. My colleagues and me have tried some alternatives, but almost all are using zoom at this moment.
    the reasons? lack of better alternatives.
    For example, moodle has a built in option for teleconferences (a nice one in fact, with several option good for teaching), but... you need a decent bandwidth form the university, that we lack
    (you need to support some thousand student watching at the same time different courses). that was the main tool we used, until now.
    jitsi meet have some features, but not as many as zoom.
    also zoom is free as in beer (at least for 99 or less students attending the course), if you don't mind to stop the class every 40min, and take a break is not so a bad thing.
    and finally: zoom is easy to use, meaning that someone without computer background can easily share screen, manage students speaking, etc...

    the quarantine has taken lots of institutions of guard, and IT departments (if they had), had to offer a quick solution easy to use.
    if someone has an alternative, lot of us are willing to try,

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Saturday April 04 2020, @11:21PM

      by bzipitidoo (4388) on Saturday April 04 2020, @11:21PM (#979169) Journal

      That's a bit deflating. I've just been tasked with finding video conferencing that works, is secure, available on many platforms, and easy to use. My tentative searches haven't turned up anything other than a whole lot of questions. There are a couple dozen. Whether any of them are good enough is hard to say. Meanwhile, they made a snap decision to run with VSee, and instantly ran into problems. Acts wonky. You think you've logged in, and then, when the browser finishes loading, you see only the login page again. In browsers, VSee uses Flash. Yuck.

      Multicasting is part of IPv4, but I understand it's uncommon. I don't know which platforms have that in their IP stack. Without broadcasting capability at the network level, video conferencing with many participants is more technically challenging. Also, the codecs are pretty important. Should use Opus for the audio. AV1 might be a good choice for the video, if it wasn't so relatively new. It may be that there is no really good video conferencing solution, because the underlying tech isn't there.

  • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Sunday April 05 2020, @12:32AM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Sunday April 05 2020, @12:32AM (#979190)

    they advertise end to end encryption. Turns out it's encrypted from you to their servers, where it's decrypted and stored. Then re-encrypted to send to the other party.

    IMHO, if that isn't criminal behavior, then it should at least be enough that anyone in their right mind runs like hell from it.

    --
    In this month in 1958 Project Snot was started. This has upset many people and is widely considered a bad idea.
(1)