Zoom has announced that it will “strengthen encryption of video calls” to help boost security for users. As reported by Reuters, the company plans to roll out this stronger encryption only to users who pay for Zoom, not those who use the free tier of the service.
As we’ve covered many times, Zoom has seen a massive increase is usage because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With that increase, however, has come a slew of privacy and security concerns that Zoom has been working to rectify. The company has rolled out fixes and policy changes, and repeatedly outlined its new emphasis on privacy.
According to Reuters, Zoom now plans to “strengthen encryption of video calls hosted by paying clients and institutions such as schools.” Those who just use the free tier of Zoom, however, will not get the improved encryption measures.
It was reported earlier this month that Zoom acquired Keybase, a startup specializing in encrypted message and file sharing. Presumably, this is the technology that will become the basis of encrypted video calling in Zoom.
In an interview, Zoom security advisor Alex Stamos explained that the plans could still change:
In an interview, Stamos said the plan was subject to change and it was not yet clear which, if any, nonprofits or other users, such as political dissidents, might qualify for accounts allowing more secure video meetings. He added that a combination of technological, safety and business factors went into the plan, which drew mixed reactions from privacy advocates.
More specific information is still unclear, but adding end-to-end encryption would be another notable step for Zoom. Apple’s FaceTime platform already offers end-to-end encryption, but FaceTime has not caught on like Zoom has during the COVID-19 pandemic.