By Andres Rinke, Thomas Escritt and Michael Sheilds | Reuters

BERLIN – The German foreign ministry has restricted use of the video conferencing service Zoom to fixed-connection desktop computers because of “critical” security and data protection weaknesses, the newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Wednesday.

A memo to employees cited by the paper said that, “based on media reports and our own findings, we have concluded that Zoom’s software has critical weaknesses and serious security and data protection problems.”

But since the system was in widespread use among the ministry’s international partners, the memo said it was currently impossible to ban its use entirely.

Zoom is seeing record use as coronavirus lockdown rules force millions of people to work or follow school lessons from home, but on Wednesday hired a top Facebook security executive in response to concerns about the security of its system.

“Zoom takes user security extremely seriously,” a spokesman said in an e-mailed statement. “Zoom is in communication with governments around the world and is focused on providing the information they need to make informed decisions about their policies.”

Taiwan has also told officials to stop using Zoom, while Switzerland has advised them to use Microsoft Teams, not Zoom, as a fallback option if its main provider Skype for Business becomes overloaded, a spokesman said.

Malefactors have managed to gatecrash Zoom video calls, seize control of shared screens and post offensive content, a phenomenon known as “zoombombing.”

A German government source confirmed the authenticity of the memo.