“Today we’re announcing that Zoom acquired Keybase,” Keybase said on a blog post from May 7th.
Keybase secures messaging and file-sharing. “We use public key cryptography to ensure your messages stay private. Even we can’t read your chats,” the company explains on their website.
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This acquisition adds “cryptographic expertise to Zoom’s staff as it deals with the fallout of security breaches,” reported Fox Business.
Keybase’s top priority is to help make Zoom more secure. “So, our shortest-term directive is to significantly improve our security effectiveness,” the blog post said. The company will do so “by working on a product that’s that much bigger than Keybase. We can’t be more specific than that, because we’re just diving in.”
Zoom has received criticism due to privacy and security issues. Lawmakers accused the company of not anticipating the risks that come with having many users. The company has a 90-day plan to strengthen the app’s privacy and security following the scrutiny of lawmakers.
“Since its launch in 2014, Keybase’s team of exceptional engineers has built a secure messaging and file-sharing service leveraging their deep encryption and security expertise,” said Zoom founder Eric Yuan in a statement. “We are excited to integrate Keybase’s team into the Zoom family to help us build end-to-end encryption that can reach current Zoom scalability.”
Zoom could have “the ability to monitor encrypted calls because they have access to the encryption keys,” as per a study by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab. The company claimed that its servers were endpoints.
Fox Business explains that this suggests that only users can access private conversations. However, “the study shows that the app’s servers were not endpoints but instead acted as intermediaries,” the news report said. This means “Zoom had access to those conversations.”
“Due to the unique needs of our platform, our goal is to utilize encryption best practices to provide maximum security, while also covering the large range of use cases that we support,” Yuan said at the time. “We are working with outside experts and will also solicit feedback from our community to ensure it is optimized for our platform.”
On a recent blog post, he said: “We plan to publish a detailed draft cryptographic design on Friday, May 22. We will then host discussion sections with civil society, cryptographic experts, and customers to share more details and solicit feedback.”