[Cryptography] But Zoom is fixable

Henry Baker hbaker1 at pipeline.com
Fri Apr 10 12:36:05 EDT 2020

At 09:14 AM 4/10/2020, Phillip Hallam-Baker wrote:
>A quarter century ago, I was in a meeting at MIT where we reviewed a number of new security protocols. One of them was so hilariously bad it was broken less than ten minutes into the presentation.
>That protocol was the never-released SSL/1.0 which eventually evolved into TLS and is the basis for almost all the security in use on the Internet today.
>Thats the way we do crypto: people try stuff, it sucks, we fix it. It would be nice if they came and asked us before they put a product out but Zoom lost $10 billion off their market cap over this flap. Good crypto people aren't cheap but Zoom can easily afford to fix this. I am sure there will be no shortage of top rank folk willing to join up to their technical board because this is a technical board which might actually meet (virtually) and do something for a change.
>There are quite a few constraints that make this an interesting problem. One constraint that I see a lot of people failing to understand is that ease of use is king. Security that demands anything of the user is not going to fly. The challenge is not to make a version of Zoom with all the usability of the PGP mode in vi. The E2E version has to be indistinguishable from the regular Zoom experience unless the user decides to ask how secure they really are.
>When the phishing issue hit the banks hard at the turn of the millennium, one of the things the Bank America people told me was they wanted a solution for the banking industry, not just for BofA: We don't compete on security.
>There are really good reasons why the banks don't compete on security. Breaches at one bank cause a general loss of confidence in banking. The banks were keen to see their customers banking online, not inline at their expensive to maintain branches.
>We have to approach Zoom security with the same mindset. This is an industry problem and we need to fix it. Given the circumstances, the short term fix is going to have to be a proprietary one with limited functionality. But the long term goal should be an industry standard security protocol that provides E2E all the time unless there is a gateway to a non E2E system in use.
>Threshold crypto allows features like cloud recording to be supported.

You are absolutely correct, but this current flap is being fueled
by players who desperately *want* Zoom to fail: Facebook, Google,
Microsoft, NSA, GHQ, etc., etc.

These players have already spent billions acquiring and/or hacking
existing systems; they don't want to have to keep investing more $$$.

The message is going out: startups, don't even think about coming
out with true end2end encryption, because we're going to crush you
with FUD.

They're also working behind the scenes with crypto killers like
EARN-IT to cast their desires into law.  See the latest post by
Signal, that they will be forced out of the U.S. by EARN-IT.


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