Zoom is a great communication platform – it helped many businesses stay afloat in the pandemic (to the point where Zoom continued seeing huge growth even after the pandemic).
Considering that Zoom handles tons of sensitive data (especially corporate data), you got to wonder – is it safe to use the platform?
Well, the platform itself offers great security. However, Zoom can’t secure an entire network or Internet connection. You need to handle that on your end to protect your data.
If you’re an expat using Zoom, a freelancer working on the go, or a remote worker, we hope our article will answer your question (whether Zoom is safe or not) and provide you with actionable tips.
First Things First – Is Zoom Secure?
Yes, Zoom itself is a secure service. It uses 256-bit AES encryption to protect your data. That’s the kind of encryption banks and military institutions use, so hackers can’t crack it.
Zoom also has optional end-to-end encryption, which offers even more security. But keep in mind that enabling it requires you to meet certain requirements (you need to use the desktop or mobile app, or Zoom Rooms). Also, enabling end-to-end encryption disables some features (like Polling, Breakout Rooms, and Live streaming).
True, Zoom had a vulnerability that would have allowed hackers to compromise meetings and steal shared data. But that issue was discovered by security researchers and disclosed to Zoom, which immediately fixed it with an update. As long as you’re not using an outdated version, you’re not vulnerable to it.
So yeah, bottom line – Zoom is safe to use.
Why Your Data Is Still at Risk
Okay, so Zoom is a secure app, so then what’s the problem?
Well, like we said in the intro, Zoom isn’t able to secure all your traffic. For example, it can only secure your data when you use its service. It can’t secure your entire connection from your device to its servers.
Here’s why that’s a problem:
- If you use public WiFi that doesn’t require a password, your traffic won’t be encrypted. Hackers could eavesdrop on your connections and use packet sniffers (like WireShark) to steal sensitive data from you (like your Zoom logging credentials, for instance).
- Even if you use secured networks, you’re still not safe. Most networks use WPA2 encryption, and a few hotspots use WPA3 encryption. Neither option is 100% safe – WPA2 is susceptible to a cyber attack called the KRACK attack, and WPA3 has serious vulnerabilities that would allow cybercriminals to compromise WPA3 network passwords.
- Really crafty hackers can set up their own fake networks that imitate real hotspots (like coffee shop, airport, or train station networks). If they trick your device into connecting to those networks (which is actually easy to do by just imitating the legitimate network’s name), they’ll be able to spy on and steal all your data.
So if you’re extremely unlucky, a cybercriminal might compromise your traffic before it even reaches Zoom’s servers. And Zoom can’t do anything to keep you safe!
How to Protect Your Data When You Use Zoom
Based on our research, there are two things you can do to enjoy better security:
1. Use Antivirus Software
Hackers often use malware to infect your device in an attempt to compromise your Zoom connections (and other traffic).
The best way to protect yourself against malicious software is to use an antivirus program. It’s designed to detect traces of malware and immediately quarantine and remove them. You only need to install the program on your device and enable its real-time protection. Oh, and be sure to keep it up-to-date 24/7 – if you don’t, it won’t be able to detect new strains of malware.
There are lots of antivirus programs out there, but we like Malwarebytes the most.
2. Use a VPN
VPNs are online services that protect your data by encrypting it. Basically, they create a secured connection between your device and a VPN server. All data that passes through it is encrypted end-to-end (only the VPN app on your device and the VPN server you connect to can decrypt the traffic).
Besides that, VPNs also hide your IP address. Hackers can’t use it to find out where you live, and they also can’t use it to DDoS your network (force you offline so that you can’t use Zoom).
What’s more, some VPN providers include ad blockers with their service. On top of getting rid of pesky ads, they can also block connections to suspicious sites (websites that host malware, to be exact). That means cybercriminals can’t use MITM attacks to redirect your traffic to malicious websites. If they do that, you won’t be able to connect to the sites.
Will a VPN Slow Down Your Zoom Speeds?
Yes, VPNs can slow down your online speeds. They encrypt your data, so they make it heavier. Due to that, it takes longer for it to travel between the VPN app and server.
But don’t worry – there are plenty of things you can do to increase your Zoom speeds with a VPN:
- Start by connecting to a server in your country or near it. Unless Zoom is blocked in your country, you won’t need a far-away server. With a nearby server, your speeds will be faster.
- Does the VPN offer split-tunneling? If it does, use it to only send Zoom traffic through the VPN connection. All the other apps can use your internet service provider’s (ISP’s) network. If the VPN has less data to route, it will be faster.
- Most VPNs use the OpenVPN protocol by default (it’s very secure but also slow). Switch to WireGuard, IKEv2/IPSec, or L2TP/IPSec instead – they’re much faster than OpenVPN (WireGuard is the best option in our opinion).
- If you have background apps that use the Internet running, turn them off. The VPN will have more bandwidth at its disposal.
How Do You Secure Zoom?
Do you just use a VPN and antivirus, or do you take other precautions? If you do, please tell us about them in the comments.