Zoom 5.0 update will bring much-needed security upgrades

The video conferencing app will get better encryption and privacy controls.
Marc DeAngelis
M. DeAngelis|04.22.20

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The coronavirus pandemic has led a surge of workers, learners, family members and friends to connect with Zoom’s video conferencing platform. However, security-conscious users have been hesitant to use the app because of a variety of security concerns. Zoom 5.0 will be out by the end of the week, and the company hopes that the latest version of the software’s new encryption and privacy features will ease those worries, including new encryption standards, more privacy options and more sensible defaults.

One of the most important features of Zoom’s 5.0 update is the addition of 256-bit AES-GCM encryption -- one of the more complex flavors of the Advanced Encryption Standard. Zoom had previously claimed that it used end-to-end encryption, even though this was not true, so this is welcome news. When it comes to the user interface, hosts will no longer have to dig through various sub-menus to access security options -- a new button will be prominently displayed on the meeting menu bar. They can also easily report Zoom party crashers with a “report user” button. Meanwhile, admins will be able to decide which data centers regions data is sent to.

These updates are good news, and to Zoom’s credit, the company has acted relatively quickly in addressing security concerns. However, it seems likely that many of these features will only be leveraged by more savvy users and admins for organizations. Zoom makes it sound like the upgrade will be a manual process, which doesn’t help much, either. The company’s download page still only offers Zoom 4.6.12, but 5.0 should be out sometime this week.

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