Zoom end-to-end encryption finally available to free users

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Arindom
A 90's kid with a huge love for films, pop culture and everything related to them. I am also a cliché engineer turned writer and a filmmaking aspirant. I love writing and reading stories, watching and discovering films from all around the world. Basically, always in the search for stories.

Zoom, the video-conferencing company that millions of homes and businesses turned to during the pandemic, has finally launched the End-To-End Encryption (E2EE) for free users. This lets participants of a video call have access to their content securely without anyone, not even Zoom, having access to the conversation.

Zoom’s decision to not allow free-users to make E2EE calls was heavily criticized and the company quickly corrected their mistake. 

In May, Zoom acquired a startup known as Keybase. Keybase specializes in encryption and has been developing encryption products for many years. Some of their product features include secure file sharing and collaboration tools.

According to Zoom, Mac, PC, iOS, and Android apps as well as Zoom rooms will support E2EE. Zoom’s web-client and third-party clients who use the Zoom SDK won’t have support to E2EE.

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Previously Zoom’s data was encrypted between each meeting participant and Zoom’s servers. Now it will be end-to-end encrypted between participants making the calls more secure. It will use a green shield at the top left of a meeting window and will show a padlock when the call is end-to-end encrypted. 

Zoom will launch E2EE during the technical preview which will allow customers to provide feedback for 30 days. The E2EE will be available after this period too.

Are there any drawbacks?

Zoom has also said that E2EE won’t let the participants use some of the other Zoom’s features. These are:

  • Cloud recording
  • Live transcription
  • Polling
  • Meeting reactions
  • Join before host features

Zoom has also said that E2EE won’t be available with telephones, SIP/H.323 devices, on-premise configurations, or Lync/Skype clients as these can’t be end-to-end encrypted.

Participants also won’t be able to use the one-to-one private chat. Additionally, all users must have a Zoom app that supports E2EE. The browser version won’t support E2EE.

Also, a maximum of 200 participants can join a Zoom meeting with E2EE support. It won’t be much of a hassle for Zoom’s Basic or Pro plans as they allow a maximum of 100 participants. However, Zoom’s Business or Enterprise subscribers allow up to 300 or 500 participants. E2EE will be difficult for these users.

To use Zoom’s end-to-end encryption, users will need to provide a phone number for SMS verification and also add valid billing information. This is necessary to prevent abuse, according to Zoom.

Jason Lee, Zoom’s Chief Information Security Officer mentioned that end-to-end encryption was a “highly requested feature from our customers, and we’re excited to make this a reality.”

Sources say that this launch is the first of four phases Zoom has scheduled in its end-to-end encryption offering. Their next phase reportedly will include better identity management and single sign-on support and is planned to launch next year.

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