COVID-19 Impact on Information Security/Warfare

Reading Time: 3 minutesSince the world went into lockdown to fight COVID-19 most parts of the global economy have taken a major hit. However, things seem to be doing very well for one company in particular. We are talking about video conferencing provider Zoom Video Communications. Zoom went public in the USA in April 2019, for an issue price of $36 per share. During March 2020, it reached its all-time high of around 160$ per share making gains of over 344% in less than one year even as the Dow Jones index plunged around 29% since April 2019.

  • Zoon has managed to successfully use COVID-19 as a marketing tool. Since the lockdown was announced Zoom has emerged as the most popular an alternative for several institutions. Corporates are using Zoom for meetings while schools and colleges have adopted Zoom for conducting live online classes. Just in 2020 Zoom has gained over 2.5 million new users. Even as the popularity of Zoom is skyrocketing, startling revelation has surfaced raising very serious questions about the privacy of its users.

 

  • Initially reports emerged that Zoom was routing data of several users through servers located in China. Zoom then came out with an official statement confirming the same. In that statement, Zoom said that they had “mistakenly” routed the calls of several non-Chinese users through China. That’s about what they said in their “statement” and did not bother to give any more data as to what happened.

 

  • As you go digging deeper more and more Chinese connections keep appearing. Zooms CEO Eric Yuan was born in Shandong province of China. He grew up and was educated in China before coming to the United States in search of a job. Yuan was featured for the first time this year in the Forbes list of billionaires after the dramatical surge in the price of Zoom share.

 

  • Apart from the data rooting through Chinese servers and another independent study carried out by researchers at the University of Toronto has shown that the encryption keys for non-Chinese users were generated through a server in China. A very valid question might be coming up in your minds.
  • So, what?
  • So, what if data was routed through Chinese servers. So, what if the encryption key is were generated in China?
  • For this, you need to First understand Chinese privacy laws. China National Intelligence law from 2017 requires that all organizations give the government access to any data that they request. In short, this means that the Communist Party of China has free access to all data passing through China. So in short, the Chinese government could view any of zooms video calls, which were routed through China and also has access to the keys to decrypt the so-called “secure” calls whose encryption keys were generated in China.

Defence Minister Of India Rajnath Singh Using Zoom Platform

  • To understand the magnitude of the issue. Keep this in mind. Defence Minister of India Rajnath Singh used the zoom to communicate with the teams of the Chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force this year on the Army Day and there is the possibility that China may have access to several such confidential meetings.

  • To be honest. This is nothing new if you’re wondering why it is taking so long for the world to get 5G, thank the same time to its Privacy Law. Governments around the world have made it clear to telecom companies that they are not to use Chinese infrastructure to set up 5G networks as under the same law Chinese manufacturers would be liable to share all your data with the Chinese government on the request. Future wars won’t be fought man-to-man but by the computer to the computer.

 

  • Cyberwarfare is the next big threat the world faces at this crucial stage. It is extremely important to protect our data. The first step to protecting ourselves would be to stop using apps like Zoon who seem to have no concern for our Privacy.

Stay home, Stay safe.

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