If you have Zoom installed on your MacBook, you’ll want to update the app right now. Zoom spent the weekend patching a major security flaw in its Mac app, and the update is available right now.
According to The Verge, it all began at Def Con, a computer security and hacker conference in Las Vegas. The founder of the security non-profit Objective-See and an ex-NSA security analyst, Patrick Wardle, took to the stage on Friday and presented a stunning find: a massive security vulnerability in the Zoom installer for MacBooks.
The exploit allowed a threat actor to take control of someone’s Mac through the Zoom app, right down to the root level of the machine. The Zoom package installer used a weak security certificate test and any file with the same name as the official Zoom package could easily bypass the test. At this level, the MacBook recognizes the hacker as a “superuser” who can then read, change or create any file, including adding other malware to the system.
Frustratingly, Wardle had discovered the security threat back in December and had informed Zoom of his findings. Wardle said Zoom didn’t take him seriously and released a patch after a month, which contained another security bug. He informed Zoom of this second bug, and more importantly, of the first bug not being fixed. Zoom sat on it.
Wardle decided to go public with his findings at Def Con. He had followed responsible disclosure protocols, which gives companies time to fix bugs, and after eight months of inaction, he felt he had to warn others. Zoom released a small patch a few weeks before the conference but Wardle said the vulnerability was still present.
This isn’t the first time Zoom has been criticized for lax security. In 2020 Wardle discovered a Mac vulnerability in Zoom which allowed cameras and microphones to be hijacked. Zoom was also found to have been sending user data to Facebook, and then the US Department of Justice filed charges against a Zoom executive for collusion with the Chinese government.
Zoom spent the weekend working on a new patch following Wardle’s presentation, and it is now available. Version 5.11.5 is a free update for Mac-based Zoom installs and is available now.
If you would prefer to use a different video conferencing platform, check out our handy guide to Microsoft Teams.