Zoom Video Communications on Thursday said it has acquired security start-up Keybase. The acquisition is in a bid to tighten the app's security by building end-to-end encryption of its video conferencing platform. However, company didn't disclose the terms of the deal. Zoom has gained immense popularity following the coronavirus outbreak.

The company's users have increased thirtyfold in the past few months as an increasing number of people are staying indoors due to the coronavirus related lockdown. However, the video conferring app has also been lately accused of having inadequate data privacy and security measures.

Zoom's first acquisition ever

Zoom app logo
Zoom app logo (screenshot) IBTSingapore/Gani Waseem

Zoom Video Communications' acquisition of start-up Keybase is the company's first purchase in its nine-year history. Interestingly, the deal too was finalized over video calls as in-person negotiations too wasn't possible due to social distancing requirements. The acquisition of the 25-person start-up is Zoom's latest move in a 90-day plan that the company announced on April 1 to fix it security flaws.

The acquisition of Keybase will aid Zoom in building end-to-end encryption of video conferences "that can reach current Zoom scalability." Once Keybase is implemented, Zoom users, who schedule a video conferencing, will be able to choose end-to-end encryption. The new setting will prevent anyone from calling in by phone which is one way people can access meetings, and will disable cloud-based recording of the chat.

Zoom plans to publish encryption designs on May 22. However, the company didn't disclose when the feature will be finished. "Keybase brings deep encryption and security expertise to Zoom," Zoom CEO Eric S. Yuan said in a statement.

Zoom ramps up security measures


Zoom has seen a surge in the number of users following the coronavirus outbreak. As more people have started working from home due to the stay-at-home restrictions due to the Covid-19 outbreak, video conferencing has gained traction over the past few months.

Zoom last month said that its users have grown to 300 million, later denying such claims. However, despite the growing popularity of the Zoom video conferencing app, the company faced severe backlash from users for failing to disclose that its service was not end-to-end encrypted.

Zoom had acknowledged that it was not prepared for the sudden surge in its app's usage, which increased thirtyfold since December. Following that Zoom pledged to make security its primary focus. In April, Zoom roped in former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos as a consultant to help the company beef up its efforts after apologizing to users for falling "short of the community's — and our own — privacy and security expectations."

Soon after assuming charge, Stamos started working towards a deal to acquire Keybase. The acquisition of Keybase is now expected to aid Zoom is rebuilding its image and instill faith in millions of its users who have been concerned over the app's safety features.