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Zoom Just Gave Free Users Frightening News…And Other Small Business Tech News

Gene Marks
Gene MarksContributor
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
I write about technology developments for small business owners.
Video Conferencing Software Zoom Goes Public On Nasdaq Exchange

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Adena Friedman, chief executive officer of Nasdaq Inc., welcomes Eric Yuan, ... [+] founder and chief executive officer of Zoom Video Communications Inc before the Nasdaq opening bell ceremony on April 18, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

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Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Zoom just gave free users frightening news.      

Zoom announced this past week that those who use the video platform for free will no longer have encrypted calls and that this new change will happen sooner than later. The reasoning behind this change —according to the company — is that they want to be able to comply and work with local law enforcement agencies as well as the FBI in the event that Zoom would be used for malicious reasons. Those who use Zoom for free merely need to provide an email address, therefore not providing adequate information in order to help verify the identity of somebody. This new roll out will only provide that end-to-end encryption to individuals with full verifiable accounts. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your business:

Hmm…or maybe Zoom could ask for the same info from their free users and give them the same encryption as their paid users? You may disagree, but this seems more like a marketing tactic than a compliance concern and for that reason I’m beginning to become just a little more wary of Zoom. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great platform. But considering their handling of past security concerns – and more importantly how they’re addressing these concerns – you may want to consider other communication platforms for your small business as well.

This is a response I received from Zoom:

Zoom has used – and continues to use – encryption technology on its platform for all users. AES 256-bit GCM encryption, which is one of the most secure encryption standards used today, is currently enabled system-wide and is available to all users – both free and paid.

Regarding contacting law enforcement, Zoom only responds to valid law enforcement requests. When we receive a request for information, Zoom's policy is to comply only if the request follows a valid legal process and there is proper jurisdiction. Zoom's policy precludes responding to requests where there is inadequate legal process, for example when authorities lack jurisdiction or when requests are overbroad.

PROMOTED

Zoom does not eavesdrop on users’ meetings. We also do not let law enforcement listen into meetings. Any reports to the contrary are categorically false. Zoom does not proactively monitor meeting content and we do not have backdoors where anyone — including employees — can enter meetings without being visible to others via the meeting participant list

As for end-to-end encryption, this is still a work in progress. We are currently listening to feedback from child safety advocates, civil liberties organizations, encryption experts, and law enforcement, and will provide an updated white paper incorporating this feedback soon.

2 — A small business recently paid the $150,000 ransom after an attack.

A small Kentucky business recently found themselves to be victims of a ransomware attack and ended up paying the $150,000 ransom in order to regain control of their PCs and get their information back. The company — which is only made up of 8 computers — simultaneously received messages on their screens stating that the hacker group had control of their PCs and they needed to pay in order to get their files back. Working with a third party contractor to help handle the ransom — after paying the $150,000 demand which was originally $400,000 — regained control of their computers and received all of their information (Source: Tech Republic)  

Why this is important for your business:

So there you have it: 150,000 reasons to make sure you’ve installed security and online backup software, paid for training and verified that everyone’s running the most up to date operating systems.

3 —Cash payments have plummeted thanks to the pandemic.   

Research released in Australia this past week revealed that — since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — the use of cash payments has greatly decreased. A survey conducted by RBA showed that — last year — one-third of participants did not use cash, while only 10% of those participating in the survey used cash consistently. Similarly, the use of checks has gone down by 20% each year and increased to 40% during the pandemic. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your business:

Yeah, yeah…it’s just Australia. But look, those guys know how to live life and what I’m seeing there is going to continue to spread worldwide. It’s likely that the decline is due to an overall spending decrease coupled with individuals staying home and doing more online shopping.  But I think it’s something else. Thanks to the virus, people are using less cash than ever. They’re paying with mobile apps and credit cards. And once many realize these benefits they’ll never go back. It’s a significant trend and your business needs to be prepared to accept payment from any source.

4 — MIT’s tiny artificial brain chip could bring supercomputer smarts to mobile devices.  

MIT has announced that their research team recently published work detailing an artificial brain chip that could potentially allow mobile devices to perform at the level of a super computer. (Source: Tech Crunch)

Why this is important for your business:

Think about the future power of the smartphone and tablet. The chip — which would be even smaller than one speck of confetti — would be able to assist in developing technology that could adequately handle higher-order AI calculations locally on devices but still be little and efficiently use power, all while negating the need to connect to data. The research team is hoping to replicate bigger, more involved AI networks that now exist with great GPU power and make it possible to house it in smaller devices.

5— YouTube is trying to become more transparent with an in-depth guide to monetization.

YouTube is working to operate in a more transparent manner when it comes to how channels are able to make money while providing stricter guidelines on the kind of content advertisers will be more willing to pay to have ads on. Historically, YouTube has allowed videos that contain malicious content to contain advertisements. However — due to past and recent events — YouTube has implemented many changes to their guidelines concerning advertising and content, including an “ineligible for advertising” portion of the guidelines based off of hateful content alone. (Source: The Verge)

Why this is important for your business:

If your business is trying to monetize YouTube it’s important to stay up to date on their latest guides and announcements. I’m doing the same for my YouTube site and am quickly discovering that it’s almost a full-time job. I guess if it were that easy everyone would be doing it.

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Summary | 8 Annotations
Zoom announced this past week that those who use the video platform for free will no longer have encrypted calls and that this new change will happen sooner than later
2020/06/14 22:10
is that they want to be able to comply and work with local law enforcement agencies as well as the FBI in the event that Zoom would be used for malicious reasons.
2020/06/14 22:10
therefore not providing adequate information in order to help verify the identity of somebody
2020/06/14 22:11
When we receive a request for information, Zoom's policy is to comply only if the request follows a valid legal process and there is proper jurisdiction.
2020/06/14 22:11
Zoom does not eavesdrop on users’ meetings. We also do not let law enforcement listen into meetings.
2020/06/14 22:12
Zoom does not proactively monitor meeting content and we do not have backdoors where anyone —
2020/06/14 22:12
MIT has announced that their research team recently published work detailing an artificial brain chip that could potentially allow mobile devices to perform at the level of a super computer
2020/06/14 22:13
The chip — which would be even smaller than one speck of confetti — would be able to assist in developing technology that could adequately handle higher-order AI calculations locally on devices but still be little and efficiently use power, all while negating the need to connect to data
2020/06/14 22:13