Hey, would you look at that: A tech company actually followed through on a promise to respect its customers’ privacy. 

Zoom announced Wednesday that, starting next week, it will finally make end-to-end encryption available for all users — both paid and free. This is a huge step toward securing its users’ calls and brings Zoom more in line with end-to-end encrypted competitors like FaceTime and Signal. Of course, there’s a rather large catch: You have to turn the feature on yourself. 

For the unfamiliar, end-to-end encryption is the industry gold standard and means (at least in theory) that no one other than the intended call participants — not even Zoom itself, and not law enforcement or hackers — can see or hear the contents of your call. Notably, Zoom is couching the launch as a “technical preview,” and is soliciting feedback for the first 30 days. Even so, this is a positive step in the right direction. 

So here’s how to turn on end-to-end encryption for your Zoom calls because they won’t magically do so on their own. 

For starters, you’ll need a Zoom account (even a free one) to turn on end-to-end encryption. Next, at least during the 30-day technical preview, “customers must enable E2EE meetings at the account level and opt-in to E2EE on a per-meeting basis.”

Turn it on.
Turn it on.

It’s also worth noting that everyone on the call has to have end-to-end encryption turned on or they won’t be able to join the meeting. Also, you won’t be able to call into an end-to-end encrypted meeting via phone. 

For the time being, Zoom says that “all meeting participants must join from the Zoom desktop client, mobile app, or Zoom Rooms.”

While you can cram up to 200 people in an end-to-end encrypted Zoom call, some features will not immediately be available. According to Zoom, those include “[joining] before the host, cloud recording, streaming, live transcription, Breakout Rooms, polling, 1:1 private chat, and meeting reactions.”

Zoom will let you know a call is end-to-end encrypted by displaying a green symbol containing a lock (shown below) in the upper-left corner of the call. 

Oh hey, privacy!
Oh hey, privacy!

And, if you want to be extra sure the connection is secure (and make sure you’re speaking to the correct person), you can do a verbal check of the host’s security code. Though, realistically, the average user shouldn’t have to worry about that. 

Looks good.
Looks good.

Zoom says it plans to roll out additional security features throughout 2021. And we’re looking forward to it. 

Perhaps, just maybe, Zoom would consider making end-to-end encryption the default for all its calls? After all, prophylactics only work if you use them. 

https://bit.ly/37kdMYP

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