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Zoom enlists help of ex-Facebook security chief in effort to fix privacy issues

Alex Stamos will be an outside adviser to Zoom as it faces security concerns amid a surge in popularity.

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(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Zoom has enlisted the help of a former Facebook chief in its efforts to improve security and privacy on the video communication platform.

Alex Stamos – who served as the the social networking giant’s chief security officer between 2015 and 2018 – will assist Zoom as an outside adviser.

It comes as the service has experienced a surge in users since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, by employees working from home, students studying, families staying in touch and even by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to chair a virtual Cabinet meeting.

But concerns have been raised about security and privacy on the platform, including “Zoombombing”, where strangers enter a meeting and harass those taking part or display explicit material.

These incidents exploited a Zoom feature which leaves meetings open to anyone unless locked by the host and forced the company to publish online guidance on how to protect calls.

Founder and chief executive Eric Yuan recently admitted the platform has struggled to deal with the demand and, as a result of the increased attention, a range of flaws within the service had been highlighted.

Former Facebook exec Mr Stamos said he was approached by Mr Yuan after he posted a series of tweets about the challenges faced by Zoom.

“He asked if I would be interested in helping Zoom build up its security, privacy and safety capabilities as an outside consultant, and I readily agreed,” he explained.

“To be clear, I am not an employee or executive of Zoom and I don’t speak for the company.”

Mr Yuan reacted, saying: “We are thrilled to have Alex on board.

“He is a fan of our platform and will no doubt help us implement controls and practices that are best-in-class.”

As part of a 90-day improvement plan, Zoom has announced the creation of a chief information security officer council and advisory board made up of leaders in cybersecurity from other companies.

The Zoom founder added: “This group will enable me to be a more effective and thoughtful leader, and will help ensure that privacy and security are at the forefront of everything we do at Zoom.

“The initial members of our advisory board will include security leaders from VMware, Netflix, Uber, Electronic Arts, and others.”

PA