Zoom Taps Former Facebook Security Chief as Advisor in Response to Security Concerns

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Zoom Video Communications has tapped former Facebook chief security officer, Alex Stamos, as an advisor to help in addressing the security and privacy challenges the company is facing as it surges in popularity amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The company saw millions of people use its video conferencing platform in the past few weeks as a main way to connect with co-workers, family and friends with lockdowns instituted around the world to stem the outbreak. Zoom’s appeal is due in part to its ease-of-use and simple approach to video-conferencing. However, this has now led to widespread criticism from users who have been subjected to “Zoombombing” where uninvited guests join calls and project graphic or threatening content, and leaks of their personal information.

There has also been a major backlash from security experts, government officials and privacy advocates who warn that Zoom’s default settings are not secure enough to ensure user's security, privacy and safety.

In a string of tweets last week, Stamos called on Zoom to be more transparent and to address security issues. Since then, Stamos said in a blog post that he had been in dialogue with Zoom chief executive Eric Yuan discussing Zoom’s challenges and how it could respond, with Yuan asking him to help Zoom build up its security, privacy and safety capabilities.

Stamos is currently the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory. Prior to joining Stanford University, he was Facebook’s security chief for three years until 2018. Before Facebook, he served as Yahoo’s chief information security officer for just over a year.

The addition of Stamos as an advisor is part of a 90-day plan announced by Zoom to address the growing concerns over its platform. It has also formed a CISO council and advisory board that includes information security chiefs from HSBC, NTT Data, Procore and Ellie Mae, among others, to discuss privacy, security and technology issues and best practices.

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