Zoom acquires Keybase to enhance encryption

Video conferencing app Zoom has acquired secure messaging and file-sharing service Keybase for an undisclosed sum.

The deal will accelerate Zoom’s plan to build end-to-end encryption that can reach current scalability.

Eric S. Yuan, chief executive of Zoom, explained: “Keybase brings deep encryption and security expertise to Zoom - bringing on a cohesive group of security engineers like this significantly advances our 90-day plan to enhance security efforts.”

Max Krohn, Keybase co-founder and developer, added: “Our team is passionate about security and privacy, and it is an honour to be able to bring our encryption expertise to a platform used by hundreds of millions of participants a day.”

As members of Zoom’s security engineering function, the Keybase team will contribute to Zoom’s 90-day plan to proactively identify, address and enhance the security and privacy capabilities of its platform.

Krohn will lead the Zoom security engineering team, reporting directly to Yuan. Leaders from both companies will work together to determine the future of the Keybase product.

Last month, Zoom hired Facebook's chief security officer Alex Stamos as an advisor, in an attempt to respond to rising security and privacy concerns.

The move followed a lawsuit being filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California by a shareholder, accusing the app of overstating its privacy standards and failing to disclose that its service was not end-to-end encrypted.

Shareholder Michael Drieu claimed in a court filing that a string of recent media reports highlighting the privacy flaws in Zoom’s application have led to the company’s stock, which had rallied for several days in the beginning of the year, to fall.

Yuan had apologised to users and said he recognised “that we have fallen short of the community's - and our own - privacy and security expectations".

Usage of Zoom has spiked during the Coronavirus self-isolation measures and sharp rise in people working from home.

Charl van der Walt, head of security research at Orange Cyberdefense, commented that today's acquisition builds on the latest 5.0 software update, which included upgraded encryption, a clearer security icon to access the safety settings, a tool to report users and new password controls.

"While Zoom’s response to the negative publicity has been impressive, the market will be closely monitoring how the platform performs in the coming months, particularly in the light of increased competition as vendors battle to take a share of the remote working world.

'The speed of developments from Google and Microsoft will ensure Zoom stays on its toes, and those established enterprise vendors already have the much stronger centralised management features we feel enterprise users demand.”

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