COVID-19 Internet Challenges

by Andrew Hart on April 14, 2020

The panic around the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to result in disruptions rarely seen before in human history. The forefront challenges caused by the virus are certainly with economic and health flavor. However, the millions of people losing their jobs and the tens of thousands of people already killed by the virus are only one part of the problems caused by the disease. With COVID-19 spreading around the globe at rapid rates, hundreds of millions of people have started telecommuting leading to heavy internet traffic. The global bandwidth demand is a test of the internet itself, and it is a cause for trouble for high-tech companies offering remote conferencing services, video streaming providers, online gaming, etc.   

Zoom, an application that provides a remote conferencing service that combines video conferencing solutions, has been receiving tons of negative publicity because of the tens of privacy and security issues uncovered since the world went into quarantine. Even the company CEO publicly admitted that things are far from perfect. The demand for streaming platforms has increased too. YouTube had no other option but to shift default video quality to standard definition amid the sudden increase in traffic caused by hundreds of millions of people thirsty for entertainment. Xbox Live also went down as people were looking for ways to kill some time at the beginning of the quarantine. The sudden increase in social media traffic led to misinformation that continues to spread like wildfire – the Facebook-owned WhatsApp had even to limit message forwarding to counter coronavirus misinformation. 

Hackers use the chaos to attack – currently, millions of remote workers are out of their comfort zone and away from the IT support that usually keeps an eye on them while in the office. Zoom’s CEO admitted the company’s privacy and security faults and missteps but also defended the remote conferencing service provider saying that over the last few weeks, Zoom’s popularity has brought types of users whose backgrounds are significantly different than the company’s general userbase. 

Up until the end of January, Zoom’s most active user crowd mainly consisted of enterprise customers with seasoned IT teams. He called the newcomers “very different,” implying that those are the type of people who are not as technology savvy and are people who may be more susceptible to cyber-attacks. Zoom verified accounts are continuously appearing on the dark web. In some cases, hackers do not even look for monetary compensation. They make the stolen information (email addresses, passwords, meeting IDs, host keys, and names) available to everyone so others can troll the meetings. 

If you are working from home, especially if you are using your equipment, you have to make sure that your device is protected with reliable antivirus software – the last thing you want is to compromise company privacy or somehow be the cause for a company data leak. Better safe than sorry!


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