Zoom will be rolling out end-to-end encryption starting next week. Free and paid users will be able to host up to 200 participants in an end-to-end encryption (E2EE) meeting on the video conferencing platform. Zoom said that the feature will be available initially as a technical preview, so that users can provide feedback to the company for the first 30 days. This is Phase 1 of a four-stage process for the end-to-end encryption rollout. Zoom said it plans to start Phase 2 that will include better identity management and end-to-end encryption with single-sign-on integration, in 2021.
Although Zoom has flourished in the pandemic, with more and more users relying on virtual modes of communication, it has also come under criticism for its security practices. End-to-end encryption is an effort to make the platform safer.
Earlier, Zoom would generate encryption keys and distribute them to participants. Now, with end-to-end encryption, the meeting’s host generates encryption keys and uses public key cryptography to distribute these keys to the other meeting participants. Zoom said, in a blog post, that it still uses the same GCM encryption; the difference was where those encryption keys live.
Enabling end-to-end encryption in Zoom’s current version will disable certain features such as join before host, cloud recording, streaming, live transcription, Breakout Rooms, polling, 1:1 private chat, and meeting reactions.
In order to verify that the meeting is using end-to-end encryption, users can look for a green shield logo with a padlock in the middle. This will be located in the upper left corner of the meeting screen, and indicates that the meeting is using E2EE. Participants will also be able to see the meeting leader’s security code. If the numbers are the same on everyone’s screen, this indicates that the Zoom meeting is end-to-end encrypted.
Zoom had announced its plans of introducing end-to-end encryption earlier this year for fee-paying users. After receiving heavy backlash for this, Zoom had said that all users will be provided with the ‘highest level of security.’ However, free users will have to participate in a one-time verification process before they can use end-to-end encryption.
How to use end-to-end encryption
To user end-to-end encryption, users will be required to enable E2EE meetings at the account level, and opt-in E2EE on a pre-meeting basis. Meeting hosts can enable the setting for end-to-end encryption at the account, group, and user level, and can be locked at the account or group level. To join an E2EE meeting, all participants must have the setting enabled.
In the on-going Phase 1 of end-to-end encryption rollout, Zoom said that all meeting participants must join the E2EE meeting from Zoom desktop client, the mobile app, or Zoom Rooms.
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