Video conferencing software biz Zoom has bought Keybase in a surprise move just weeks after hiring Facebook's one-time CSO.
"There are end-to-end encrypted communications platforms. There are communications platforms with easily deployable security. There are enterprise-scale communications platforms. We believe that no current platform offers all of these. This is what Zoom plans to build, giving our users security, ease of use, and scale, all at once," said Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom, in a canned statement.
Keybase is a collaboration-cum-secure-messaging website that was launched in 2014. Although it has been reasonably well received over the years, in late 2019 some long time users complained that the platform had been overrun with spammers.
Zoom itself has faced a barrage of criticism as the Western world entered COVID-19-driven lockdowns earlier this year over security and privacy. The phrase "zoombombing" has also emerged, describing how malicious people abused Zoom's baffling lack-of-default-password setting (since fixed) to gatecrash conference calls.
Alex Stamos, Zoom's chief privacy bod, formerly of Facebook and Yahoo!, said on Twitter that today's buy is a good thing, adding that Keybase's creators "now have a chance to change the baseline of security and privacy in enterprise communications forever."
I am very happy that @zoom_us has bought @KeybaseIO and announced a plan to offer an end-to-end encrypted mode that works with Zoom's video quality and scale. Details from @ericsyuan: https://t.co/itXI2D51do— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) May 7, 2020
Stamos added that a "detailed cryptographic design" will be published for world+dog to pore over "by May 22nd".
In its own statement, Keybase said: "Initially, our single top priority is helping to make Zoom even more secure. There are no specific plans for the Keybase app yet. Ultimately Keybase's future is in Zoom's hands, and we'll see where that takes us."
It promised to inform users if or when any changes come to pass. A new version "with much improved team management" is due to be released soon, while Keybase's features will form part of Zoom's paid-for service according to CNBC News in America, which interviewed the two firms' chiefs about the deal.
Financial terms of the buyout were not disclosed. ®