Major Philippine telco bans internal use of Zoom, cites security risks

PLDT bans Zoom

PLDT, the Philippines’ dominant telecom carrier, is not allowing employees to use Zoom, the popular video conferencing app, due to information security risks.

The company, in a social media post, said that its internal cyber security team would start “blocking all Zoom applications.”

However, the telco clarified that it is not barring PLDT and Smart Telecom customers from using the app. Smart is PLDT’s cellular and mobile data arm.

“We wish to clarify that PLDT and Smart are NOT blocking the use of Zoom by our customers. As stated, the memo in question was an internal communication addressed to PLDT and Smart employees,” PLDT said.

Information security risks cited

PLDT said it issued the memo barring workers from using Zoom “following several widely circulated published reports about information security risks associated with the use of the application.”

The carrier said only official communications applications approved by its cyber security team will be allowed. The dominant carrier did not specify which video conference apps its cyber security team has recommended for employees.

A tech website earlier reported that PLDT considers Zoom as malware. The memo said:

“The growing number of compromised Zoom users and hijacked online meetings are forcing us to prevent it from running in all PLDT-Smart endpoint assets.”

Use of Zoom surges due to pandemic

Zoom has become the de facto online communications tool for millions across the globe, particularly in the last few months. This is mostly due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has continued to ravage nations across the world.

Apple offers work from home option to employees amid coronavirus outbreak

Additionally, with major cities on lockdown, more people are now working at home or conducting their businesses using Zoom and other video conferencing apps.

In fact, it was reported that in March, Zoom apps hit an average daily user surge of 200 million.

‘Zoombombing’

However, the application also attracted users who have found malicious uses of popular online meeting platforms, giving birth to the term “Zoombombing.”

An example of a typical zoombombing occurs when an uninvited guest (or even a group) enters an ongoing Zoom online meeting and disrupting the meeting by screen-sharing offensive images meant to derail the meeting.

The perpetrators often use aliases to jump from one Zoom meeting to another.

The zoombings have become so serious that the Federal Bureau of Investigation have reportedly stepped in to warn users of video calls being “hijacked.”

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