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Zoom Video's Active Users Soar As Data Privacy Concerns Grow

The videoconferencing platform’s popularity surged in March, but Zoom's data privacy and security measures in the face of record-breaking traffic are being called into question at the same time.

 Zoom Video Communications saw staggering growth in the usage of its platform in March as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has forced global school and office closures.

Most businesses have some or all of their employees working remotely right now and many school campuses closed in March as a way to slow the spread of the virus. As a result, videoconferencing for remote working and learning is on the rise. Zoom, a provider of cloud videoconferencing solutions, has arguably seen the biggest bump-up in users, with its daily active users up 151 percent year-over-year in March.

In the United States alone, Zoom Video's daily user volumes hit a record 4.84 million on March 30, according to data from research firm Apptopia. That number is more than three times the number of average daily users that its closest competitor has, Microsoft Teams, which had 1.56 million users on the same day.

[Related: 7 Free Collaboration Software And Videoconferencing Tools For Working Remotely]

But as many remote workers and students turn to videoconferencing tools to stay connected and productive, cases of teleworking and online classroom hijacking are being reported. Also known as "Zoom-bombing," the FBI this week said it received multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic images, hate images, or threatening language.

“We take the security of Zoom meetings seriously and we are deeply upset to hear about the incidents involving [Zoom-Bombing]," Zoom said in a statement to CRN. "We encourage users to report any incidents of this kind directly to https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/requests/new so we can take appropriate action.”

The San Jose, Calif.-based company suggested that for those hosting large, public group meetings, hosts are encouraged to review their settings and confirm that only the host can share their screen. Password protections are on Zoom's private meetings by default, which the company recommends users keep on to prevent uninvited users from joining.

In addition to its enterprise offering, Zoom today offers a freemium model that lets users sign up for free 40-minute meetings. The company is also lifting the 40-minute limit for online classes right now.

But Zoom's unprecedented growth has also put the company's security practices under a magnifying glass. The office of New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, on Monday sent a letter to Zoom questioning the security measures that the company has put in place as traffic increases dramatically on its network, according to a report published by The New York Times.

“We appreciate the New York attorney general’s engagement on these issues and are happy to provide her with the requested information,” said a statement published Monday on Twitter from Zoom CEO Eric Yuan.

Microsoft in March said that its Teams collaboration platform has also seen explosive growth, adding 12 million daily users in one week last month. The Bellevue, Wash.-based company said at the end of March that 44 million people globally were using Teams on a daily basis, up from 32 million as of March 11. That figure is more than double the amount of daily users Teams had four months ago, when Microsoft reported 20 million daily active users for Teams.

Cisco Systems' popular Webex videoconferencing platform has also seen a surge in usage. The company said that Webex daily meeting volume has more than doubled since the beginning of March and during peak hours, volume is up 24 times where it would be normally. During the first 11 business days of March, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said that the firm logged 5.5 billion meeting minutes on Webex.

Zoom today is doing about 10 percent of its business through the channel, according to the company.

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