Since the middle of March, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of people to stay home “to flatten the curve,” dozens of video conferencing services have surged in use. The Zoom platform has risen to the top, helping businesses, schools and individuals adapt to the new social distancing culture.
Zoom’s free version accommodates 100 video participants at once and includes the ability to hold encrypted meetings, record sessions and even pick from different backgrounds (such as the New York City skyline or even an image you upload).
Zoom’s stock prices started 2020 at $68.72. As the easy-to-use platform’s popularity has gone through the roof, its stock value has as well, reaching a high of $568.34 on Monday, Oct. 19. Prices have drifted back some, trading between $400 and $425 this past Wednesday. Earlier in the week, on Monday, the company reported a whopping 367% increase in year-over-year revenue and a third-quarter net income of $198 million.
With that type of success, it is no surprise that Zoom is the world’s most downloaded app in 2020. That success has not gone unnoticed by scammers. The Better Business Bureau is now warning users to be aware of unexpected or unsolicited emails, texts or social media messages, branded with Zoom logos, that could put you and your computer in peril.
Email security researchers say this particular attack has successfully found its way into more than 50,000 mailboxes. It consists of a phony “phishing” notification about your account, such as, “Your Zoom account has been suspended due to failure to pay subscription fees. Click here to reactivate,” or “You missed a meeting, click here to see the details and reschedule.”
These sketchy messages include links that could either download malware directly onto your computer or take you to a fake Zoom login page. The fake login page is designed to trick users into providing their email and Zoom password, which gives them control of your account. Scammers may also try to use your password/email combination to log in to other services or platforms. (For your information, 53% of people reuse the same password across multiple accounts.)
The BBB’s advice for years when it comes to unsolicited messages has been: DON’T CLICK ON ANYTHING. That includes links, PDFs, documents, files or even photos.
To further help you from falling for a Zoom scam, the Better Business Bureau also recommends you take these precautions:
• Be skeptical about messages that are not addressed to you by name.
• Double-check the sender’s domain addresses. The use of a display name such as “Zoom IP”, along with a sign off from “Team Zoom,” suggests the email is sent from an official source, Zoom.com and Zoom.us are the only official domains for Zoom. If the email isn’t from domains exactly like those, you can be sure it’s probably a scam.
• Contact Zoom directly if you receive an email saying there’s a problem with your account. Go to the official website by typing one of the domains listed above and find the “Contact Support” link to get help.
• Also, check for any spelling or grammatical errors on suspicious notifications. Typos and poor grammar are uncommon on legitimate companies’ communications.
All it takes to break into your business or computer is a cleverly worded and designed email message. If scammers can trick one person into clicking on a malicious link, they can gain access to your data.
With 3.4 billion emails are sent every day, whether you use Zoom or not you must be cautious and vigilant to avoid becoming a victim.
Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.