Due to the mass transfer of employees to remote work, the popularity of video conferencing services has jumped dramatically. At the same time, however, many questions arose regarding the protection of confidential information, some of which were addressed to one of the most popular solutions – Zoom. We want to consider five alternatives to Zoom, which will suit organizations and users who put security and privacy first.
As we mentioned above, Zoom has been criticized by cybersecurity professionals over the past couple of weeks. The first thing that the experts drew attention to was a strange policy regarding user data collection. A little later there were reports of a phenomenon called “Zoom bombing” – obsessive jokers or attackers raided chat rooms and video conferences.
If this wasn’t enough, sending user data to China, storing the videos in an insecure cloud, and vulnerabilities in Windows and MacOS versions have finally undermined the credibility of Zoom. Needless to say, the sharp jump in Zoom’s popularity provoked increased attention to the service. Due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the daily number of Zoom users increased from 10 to 200 million. Of course, you can’t deny Zoom functionality – this software can do a lot. Considering the alternatives, we emphasize that some other services are inferior to Zoom in this component, but your data will be safer.
If all virtual meeting or chat participants are using Apple devices, it is better FaceTime no option can be found. Firstly, the connection turns out to be very stable – even a large number of connected subscribers did not raise any questions about the quality of communication.
The key difference between FaceTime and Zoom concerning information protection is the use of end-to-end encryption. Even Apple no key, with which you can view user chats FaceTime.
Already largely clouded by cybersecurity experts, the service Signal pays much attention to privacy. Advanced users always prefer Signal to its main competitor, WhatsApp.
In order not to be inferior to the messenger from Facebook, Signal developers have equipped their brainchild with video calls. The service also uses end-to-end encryption based on the protocol Signal Protocol with open source code.
However, maximum protected applications often suffer from reduced functionality. This is exactly the case. Signal does not support group chats, so it can only be used for one-to-one communication.
Skype and Microsoft Teams
Skype can be classified as a serious alternative to Zoom, if only because they are barely inferior to each other in functionality. Skype is stable enough, supports large group chats, and it is not necessary to start a separate account for use. At the same time, the service allows you to easily create your own meetings and set up access rules for them.
There is one drawback – video calls via Skype are of course encrypted, but here no end-to-end encryption is used. Therefore, it is better to use Signal for very personal calls.
The service Microsoft Teams will work for organizations that use Office 365. This solution is noted for its excellent implementation of two factor authentication (2FA) and data encryption.
Recently launched on the market, Jitsi, whose source code is fully open, is an interesting application with a focus on security. Jitsi can offer many useful features that will be useful for video calls. If you want to invite a group of people into a chat room, they won’t have to create an account.
Jitsi encrypts all transmitted information, but there is no end-to-end encryption here either. In some cases, users have reported minor stability issues if there are large numbers of people involved in a video call.
It’s worth noting that developers are constantly refining and improving Jitsi, so it should definitely be tried as an alternative to Zoom.
The Houseparty app has been on the news headlines in recent weeks, with rumors that an unknown cybercriminal has hacked into the service. Fortunately, all this remained at the level of rumors, no one has provided any evidence of the incident. The developers even offered $1 million to anyone who could prove the hack.
Houseparty is not very secure, but its functionality for regular chat rooms is at a good level. Antivirus company ESET specialist Lukas Stefanco, after analyzing Houseparty, concluded that there are no serious vulnerabilities in the service. The only thing is don’t forget to close your chats to outsiders.
How to protect your video conferences in Zoom
The U.S. Attorney General is currently testing Zoom for security and confidentiality requirements. You cannot trust this service yet, but you can take steps to help protect your data.
1. Update your Zoom regularly. The application needs to be kept up to date as vulnerabilities are identified regularly. In this sense, it is no different from any other program. To be fair, the developers have promptly addressed the last two security issues identified.
Thus, one of the most obvious but effective measures is to constantly check the relevance of the desktop and mobile versions. If updates and patches are released, they should be installed as soon as possible.
2. use passwords to protect conferences. Never share the ID of video chats. The aforementioned “Zoom bombing” attack method could not have been implemented if users had protected their conferences with a password. Unfortunately, people often post IDs on public platforms and social networks. In other words, they open the door to attackers themselves.
Needless to say, none of the above services will be an ideal replacement for Zoom. However, your choice may depend on your needs. For example, FaceTime is the best choice for family and friends. You need a really big chat room with lots of participants – Houseparty is at your service. In addition, the services continue to evolve. Jitsi may become even more functional in the near future. So pick out what’s closer to you.