Taiwan bans its government from using Zoom due to security issues


Taiwan stated that all agencies should avoid using video conferencing services with security flaws, specifically mentioning Zoom, during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Last week security researchers at Citizen Lab detected calls made on Zoom in North America were routed through China, alongside the encryption keys used to protect them.

The Citizen Lab report examined the confidentiality of Zoom meetings and identified “significant weaknesses” in the company’s encryption scheme, and “potential areas of concern” in its infrastructure – which includes the company’s employees in China being exposed to pressure from state authorities.

Relations between Taiwan and China remain fraught, with both countries essentially claiming that the other is part of their territory. The official name of Taiwan, which is an independent democratic state, is the Republic of China.

There have been just 376 confirmed cases in Taiwan, and five deaths. The country rapidly responded to reports of an unidentified outbreak in Wuhan and was inspecting passengers flying in from the city from 31 December.

Taiwan suggested that services offered by Microsoft and Google would be acceptable alternatives to Zoom.

The software has also been criticised in the UK, with Ministry of Defence staff being banned from using Zoom over security fears – although non-classified Cabinet meetings have taken place using the software.

In a blog post last week – following the FBI also investigating “Zoombombs” in which trolls targeted school lessons with pornography – the company’s chief executive said the company was taking security concerns “extremely seriously”.

“We recognise that we have fallen short of the community’s – and our own – privacy and security expectations. For that, I am deeply sorry,” wrote Eric Yuan.

“A large number of global institutions ranging from the world’s largest financial services companies, to leading telecommunications providers, government agencies, universities, healthcare and telemedicine practices have done exhaustive security reviews of our user, network and datacenter layers confidently selecting Zoom for complete deployment.

“Zoom is in communication with governments around the world and is focused on providing the information they need to make informed decisions about their policies.”