Zoom hires ex-Facebook security chief Alex Stamos as adviser

FILE PHOTO: Alex Stamos speaks at WIRED25 Festival. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25  )
FILE PHOTO: Alex Stamos speaks at WIRED25 Festival. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25 )

Zoom Video Communications Inc (ZM.O) has tapped former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos as an adviser as safety and privacy concerns about its fast-growing video-conferencing app drive a global backlash against the company.

Recently, Google banned the desktop version of Zoom from corporate laptops.

Coronavirus lockdowns have driven a surge in Zoom usage, even as concerns have grown over its lack of end-to-end encryption of meeting sessions, routing of traffic through China and “zoombombing,” when uninvited guests crash meetings.

In a stark illustration of Zoom’s security issues, officials at Berkeley High School in California said they suspended use of the app after a “naked adult male using racial slurs” intruded on what the school said was a password-protected meeting on Zoom, according to a letter to parents.

Taiwan and Germany have already put restrictions on Zoom’s use, while Elon Musk’s SpaceX has banned the app over security concerns. The company also faces a class-action lawsuit.

A Berkeley school district spokeswoman said it was possible a password had been shared, allowing the intrusion. But she added that the entire district was putting Zoom on pause for at least “a few days” to consider how to use and train for video-conferencing.

Zoom attracted users with its ease of use, as well as a free offering. Many schools around the world also started using it for online classes.

In a series of tweets here in late March, Stamos called on Zoom to be more transparent and roll out a 30-day security plan. That led to the platform’s founder and Chief Executive Officer Eric Yuan asking him to weigh in as an outside consultant.

Stamos said on Twitter he would be a paid consultant to Zoom.

To address security concerns, Zoom has embarked on a 90-day plan and has formed a CISO Council, which includes chief information security officers of HSBC (HSBA.L), NTT Data (9613.T), Procore PCOR.N and Ellie Mae, to discuss about privacy, security and technology issues.

It has also set up a board to advise Yuan on privacy issues. The initial members include executives from VMware (VMW.N), Netflix (NFLX.O), Uber (UBER.N) and Electronic Arts (EA.O).

Zoom, which competes with Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) Teams and Cisco’s (CSCO.O) Webex, has seen daily users jump to 200 million from 10 million and the stock surged to a record high in March.