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Taiwan First Country to Ban Zoom Platform Over Security Concerns

David Paul

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Zoom

The ban comes after a huge increase in users puts a strain on the platform, leaving it open to third-party privacy concerns.

The Taiwanese Government has become the first to place an outright ban on video chat service Zoom after worldwide security concerns over the platform’s security.

In a formal advisory, the Department of Information Services said that anyone requiring such a platform should use local or government-sanctioned versions, or platforms not associated with any security concerns. Platforms released by Google and Microsoft are also permitted if local versions are unavailable.

The advisory says that the use of Zoom contravenes rules set out under the nation’s Cyber Security Management Act, passed last year. The legislation introduced information and data security measures, aimed at defending the country’s critical communications infrastructure.

A statement in the advisory said: “In response to changing developments surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, many organisations have the option to use remote video conferencing technology to coordinate with separate or distant offices as a means of minimising business disruptions.

“The Executive Yuan’s Department of Cyber Security (DCS) today formally issued an advisory to all government organisations and specific non-government agencies that should it become operationally necessary to engage in video conferencing, the underlying video software to be used should not have associated security or privacy concerns, such as the Zoom video communication service.”

The platform has seen an increase in users during the period of lockdown due to COVID-19 from 10 million to 200 million daily.

The company has come under fire over recent weeks for the security issues found on its platform being discovered since the influx of new users, a major issue being ‘zoom bombers’ – third-party users that join public chats uninvited and post inappropriate content.

Most recently, Citizen Lab said it found “significant weaknesses” in the encryption protecting the confidentiality of meetings using Zoom, as well as evidence that encryption keys from meetings held in the US were sometimes being sent to servers in China.

On April 1st Zoom CEO Eric Yuan released a statement explaining that the influx of new users has put a strain on services, and although the company has worked hard to keep up, he realises that Zoom had “fallen short of the community’s – and our own – privacy and security expectations.”

Elon Musk has told all staff working in his offices to stop using Zoom, while a warning from the FBI to users over the potential security risks on the platform caused the company’s stock price to drop by almost 15%.

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However, a recent US Government memo seen by Reuters praised Zoom for taking its security concerns seriously, and quickly attempting to make changes to its processes.

The company has taken steps to including removing the Facebook SDK in late March to prevent it from collecting unnecessary device information from its users.

“Over the next 90 days, we are committed to dedicating the resources needed to better identify, address, and fix issues proactively,” Yuan said.

“We are also committed to being transparent throughout this process. We want to do what it takes to maintain your trust.”

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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