November 23, 2020,
End-to-End encryption (E2EE)
After several false starts, the video-conferencing software Zoom is rolling out End-to-End encryption (E2EE) for all users.
Despite a huge surge of use during quarantine, the San-Jose based company garnered some backlash from its users earlier this year. Several lawsuits were filed against the company claiming that it marketed E2EE falsely to its users and misrepresented the security features of its software. The company then said it was rolling out E2EE, but only to paid users. They have since backtracked and are now offering full encryption to all users of the software.
Earlier in the year, Zoom indicated in several places that the company was using E2EE. This was first questioned by The Intercept, who reached out to the company. They found that the video calls were only using TLS encryption, which meant that malicious actors could potentially access the content of the calls. True E2EE would protect user calls from all third parties.
What is End-to-End Encryption?
End-to-End Encryption is quickly becoming the de-facto standard for communications companies that want to ensure good cyber security. With E2EE the communication is encrypted at the source and is only decrypted when received. This blocks unintended users from being able to read or view the communication. Using E2EE reduces risk and protects the data being transmitted.
Why End-to-End Encryption Matters
Full encryption is important for companies that transmit user data in any form. There is an expectation of privacy and basic cyber security that people have when using modern communication software. As an industry, videoconferencing and messaging applications have exploded in recent years. This growth has only been accelerated by the quarantine induced by Covid-19. There is very little national oversight and regulation applied to these kinds of internet-based communications. Security and privacy of user communication is largely left to the developers and companies building the software. As more and more companies come under fire to protect the privacy and security of their users with tools like encryption, users benefit the most.
Zoom will be rolling out true E2EE to all users in 4 phases, with easier connections and sign-ins planned for phase 2. The encryption status of calls can be checked by looking for a small green shield with a padlock in the middle. This may interfere with some call features but will ensure the privacy and security of all calls moving forward.