Apple Steps in: Removes Zoom Web Server From All Macs

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Apple on Wednesday released an update to remove the Zoom web server from all Macs, following controversy that it puts users’ security at risk. 

The issue with Zoom came under the spotlight earlier this week, when a security researcher revealed that the video conferencing app may allow attackers to access a user’s video feed by simply tricking them into clicking on a malicious link. 

However, only Mac users who enabled video when joining a meeting were impacted by the vulnerability. 

The researcher also revealed that, at install, the Zoom application sets up a web server onto the user’s Mac that is not removed when the Zoom Client is uninstalled. This provides attackers with the possibility to re-install the application when the victim clicks on the malicious link, without any other user interaction. 

Zoom responded to the researcher’s allegations, claiming that the web server works as intended, allowing users to join meetings with a single click. It also pointed out that its video conferencing application is not the only software to use a web server to enhance user experience. 

On Wednesday, the company also revealed that it had released a prompted update for its Mac Zoom Client to remove the web server. The update also included a new option to allow users to remove the web server when uninstalling the Zoom application. 

Also on Wednesday, Apple issued its own update for Macs, to remove the Zoom web server from all machines. The update will remove the server even for users who did not update their Zoom app or deleted it before Zoom’s own patch. 

“Zoom worked with Apple to test this update, which requires no user interaction,” Zoom founder and CEO Eric S. Yuan reveals in a blog post

Next week, the company will also release an update to address the video on by default issue, providing users with a new option that allows them to turn video off at all times. 

“The selection will automatically be applied to the user’s Zoom client settings and their video will be OFF by default for all future meetings. (Returning users can update their video preferences and make video OFF by default at any time through the Zoom client settings.)” Yuan says. 

One other issue the security researcher pointed out was that he refused Zoom’s bounty reward for his findings because the company only runs a private bug bounty program, which prevents researchers from sharing information on the discovered issues publicly.

Now, Zoom says it plans on going public with the vulnerability disclosure program in the next few weeks, to supplement the existing private program. The company also says it has taken steps to improve the process for “receiving, escalating, and closing the loop on all future security-related concerns.”

Related: Vulnerability Gives Attackers Remote Access to Zoom Users’ Cameras

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

Previous Columns by Ionut Arghire:
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