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MHA says Zoom app not safe, issues guidelines for those who still want to use it




The Zoom app home screen and logo | Image: ThePrint Team
The Zoom app home screen and logo | Image: ThePrint Team

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New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued an advisory Thursday, saying Zoom, the video conference app, is not a safe platform.

However, for individuals who may still want to go ahead and use the app, the MHA laid down nine guidelines to ensure the users’ online safety.

The MHA also mentioned in the statement that the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN), the country’s nodal agency for responding to computer security, had issued advisories on 6 February and 30 March regarding the app.

The Covid-19 lockdown has seen a sharp surge in downloads of the Zoom app, which appears to have emerged as the go-to portal for video meetings as an unprecedented number of employees are working from home.

Also read: Yes, Zoom messed up, but it’s really not the villain

Safety guidelines

The nine-step safety guidelines included setting a new user ID and password for every meeting.

To host a meeting on the app, a specialised meeting ID is required, therefore to ensure that no unwanted person can attend or disrupt the Zoom meeting, the MHA advised the creation of a new ID and password for each meeting. 

The guidelines also comprised enabling the waiting room feature, so that a person can only join the meeting once approved and admitted by the person hosting it. 

As part of the other safety guidelines were also steps such as disabling the option of joining a meeting before the host, allowing removed participants to re-join the meeting and allowing only the host, who is conducting the Zoom meeting, to enable the screen-share option. 

The steps also included locking the meeting once all attendees have joined it and restricting the call recording feature. It also highlighted the difference between ending the meeting and not just leaving it, for the host. 

Objective of guidelines

In its safety advisory, the MHA pointed out that the reason for listing the guidelines was to ensure there was no unauthorised entry of a person in the virtual conference room and to also prevent any person in the meeting from taking part in any malicious activities during the conference.

The objectives also underscored that the guidelines were meant to avoid a DOS (Denial of Service) attack, which is a cyber attack meant to shut down a machine or network, making it inaccessible to its intended users, by restricting them through passwords.

Although the Zoom app is quite popular, its safety remains a concern. Singapore last week decided to stop using the app for its online classes after someone hacked a meeting and started sharing obscene pictures. 

Also read: Zoom addresses data privacy concerns, offers paying clients new call control facilities


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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