COVID-19: To continue using Zoom or not


Due to the state of emergency movement due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, some business products and services have skyrocketed resulting to increase in demand. Food delivery, e-commerce portals and online meeting platforms are among the ones profiting from the situation. Zoom itself has seen a 20-fold increase in usage. Usually it has only 10 million online meetings per month, now there are at least 200 million online meetings a month.

The question that is now raised by many people: Is it safe to use Zoom?

This application, Zoom is like many other online media platforms such as Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. Each of these has advantages and disadvantages in terms of settings, technical and non-technical features, costs or other functionality.

Zoom, like other products, is very likely to have system flaws and weaknesses. Are other platforms any safer? Let's take the example of automobile thefts - if a certain brand of car is stolen more frequently than others, is it because the other brands are safer? Not really. Maybe it's because that car brand is the one with the most users so it's easier to learn, easier to find the key/loopholes and easier to sell the stolen goods.

Boom in usage

When the use of Zoom increases by 20 times, it needs to be understood from two aspects: that of the User and that of the Service Provider. From the user's perspective, many are using this platform for the first time. They may use it only once for online meetings. In fact, many of them are also using internet technology for the first time! Can you imagine whether or not these users understand the ins and outs of Internet traffic that is full of risks and guidelines?

From the service provider, or Zoom's perspective, it can be overwhelming when business increases so drastically. There are at least three things that they must be able provide/cater to users : 1. Technical settings, 2. Business processes, and 3. Human resources. Is Zoom prepared/ready in all three areas to receive user overflows in a blink of an eye?

Examples of technical settings include account registration settings, account security settings, data storage settings, traffic locking settings, database settings, etc. Examples of business process problems are: security policy, privacy policy, user agreement, and also public complaint mechanism and dispute resolution: is the organisation/platform ready to accept the number of users with various complications and complaints? The issue of human resources is the extent to which they prepare technical, legal, PR and other personnel in welcoming the overflow of consumers? We need Zoom to be transparent in this matter.

Potential problems

At this point, it's only natural that applications such as Zoom have a myriad of potential problems. But in the name of using technology it is a transaction or trade-off. For example, once we open a social media account, we must be aware that there is a trade-off between the convenience of privacy and the efficiency of connectivity and collaboration. Or, if you want total security, for example, the answer is total lockdown. But the facts on the ground are, many choose partial lockdown, curfew, quarantine of the region, or just an appeal for self-isolation. All those have their own goals and costs. Convenience, Benefits vs Risks.

So, in terms of Zoom, there are some things we need to understand. First, what are our choices? Are online meetings really a necessity, homesickness or just style? Then, if you want to do an online meeting that involves multiple users, you have several choices of platforms. Do some research and consider the advantages and disadvantages of each product: Zoom, Hangouts, Skype, Yahoo, etc.

Tips to adopt

If the choice is still on Zoom (for example, consider simple, popular, free, and accommodating factors), then there are a number of steps that must be considered. Examples of these steps include:

1. Do not install products other than from the official web-page or service provider link.

2. When registering an account, minimise the personal data submitted.

3. In setting online meetings, avoid talks that involve state secrets, trade secrets and other crucial data. Here there is a need for risk management and data classification.

4. If it involves minors, avoid exposing excessive information. If it's not necessary, don't record it. If it's not necessary, reduce video exposure, just audio.

5. Optimise the host / moderator function to set meeting settings (after learning it first).

Apart from all that, advocacy and outreach efforts are still needed so that Zoom or other platforms continue to understand user concerns and always increase their level of security and privacy. Advocacy from the Government and civil society needs to be continued together. The media also has a big role to play in promoting and maintaining the security and privacy of community data.

Finally, a message for our fathers in Parliament in Indonesia, let's move the relevant legislation namely the Personal Data Protection Bill. In Malaysia this law has existed since 2010 and has been able to minimise data disasters. With this law, it is expected that all forms of data misuse and neglect can be handled legally and provide comfort to the public.

By: Dr Sonny Zulhuda, Advisor to DPEX Network
Translated by: Benjamin Shepherdson CIPM, GRCP

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official view of the organisation or position of DPEXNetwork.

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