PLDT-Smart won’t block Zoom for customers, only ban it internally

Apr 4, 2020
PHOTO: Background photo: Andras Vas on Unsplash

AS screenshots of an internal memo leaked online, telecommunications companies PLDT and Smart issued a joint statement on Facebook about software app Zoom.

In the statement, the two companies clarified that they are “NOT blocking the use of Zoom for our customers.”

The Facebook post continued: "[T]he memo in question was an internal communication addressed to PLDT and Smart employees."

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The announcement seemed to confirm the veracity of the internal memo (dated April 3, 2020, and titled "Zoom Blacklisting") that's making the rounds in various chat groups, which stated that PLDT and Smart's "Endpoint Advance Security will start blocking all Zoom applications."

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According to a copy obtained by SPIN Life, Angel T. Redoble, executive vice president and chief information security officer of Smart Communications, ePLDT Group, and the PLDT Group, warned employees that “Zoom application is now considered a malware.”

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

Blocking Zoom, the memo said, would prevent a “privacy disaster” inside the companies.

With the rise in work-from-home and telecommuting because of the COVID-19 pandemic, meeting app Zoom shot in popularity. Even singer Dua Lipa used the software to host a launch party for her new album.

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In its free tier, Zoom offers 40-minute conference calls for up to 100 attendees. But over the past week, numerous privacy and security concerns have dogged the app.

Vice reported that Zoom’s “company directory” feature could inadvertently leak personal information, including pictures and email addresses. Moreover, The Intercept confirmed that, despite what its developers claim, Zoom is not actually end-to-end encrypted for video and audio. (End-to-end encryption is “widely understood as the most private form of internet communication,” wrote The Intercept’s Micah Lee and Yael Grauer.)

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A practice called “Zoombombing” also allowed random strangers to drop in — or even share pornographic content — in meetings that are not protected by a password. This may be the “hijacked online meetings” that the PLDT-Smart internal memo is referring to.

If you want to play it safe like PLDT and Smart, The Verge recommends several alternatives to Zoom, including Skype (and its Meet Now feature), Jitsi Meet, meet.google.com, and, if your company is on Office 365, Microsoft Teams.

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PHOTO: Background photo: Andras Vas on Unsplash
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