Zoom Acqui-Hires Keybase

| Gerhard Lanz | Notes

I’ve been a user of Keybase, an end-to-end encryption service that is easy to use. Keybase provides secure messaging and file-sharing as well as proof of ownership for social media identities using cryptography.

On 7 May 2020, Keybase1 and Zoom2 used their respective blogs to announce Keybase had been acquired by Zoom. The need for Zoom to improve the security of it’s videoteleconferencing services is probably the primary driver for this. Zoom didn’t set out to purchase a new platform, Zoom wants a team experienced in designing encryption services for the average consumer. Purchasing a company for the skills of a team rather than the capability of a platform is colloquially known as an acqui-hire.

What is concerning about Zoom (a US-based company) is that it “appears to own three companies in China through which at least 700 employees are paid to develop Zoom’s software,” according to analysts at The Citizen Lab3. Additionally, The Citizen Lab found that encryption keys generated for calls outside China were being routed through servers in China.

What this means for the Keybase platform remains to be seen. While I won’t delete my account just yet – In the mean-time – I won’t be using Keybase.