With offices and schools around the world that were temporarily closed due to the coronavirus crisis, the video platform Zoom has achieved overnight success. However, growing security concerns across the platform are causing many consumers to wonder about technical alternatives.
Privacy-conscious consumers should carefully consider video chat options, said Arvind Narayanan, an associate computer science professor at Princeton University, who commented on the security concerns surrounding Zoom.
"There is a compromise between security and ease of use when choosing a video conferencing product," he said. "Businesses and schools should consider supporting multiple software options, configuring them securely, and educating their users about the risks."
Here are some of your data video conferencing options to stay connected while seeking protection:
The app is headquartered in San Jose, California, and was launched at $ 1
Advantages: The use is seamless. Participants can join from anywhere via a publicly shared link, and no software needs to be downloaded to join. This is a great option if you are not discussing anything private or secure – for example, a virtual happy hour with friends. The company has promised to fix privacy and security issues and recently made the standard options more secure by requiring passwords to join meetings.
Disadvantages: Zoom had some obvious privacy and security issues. There are still “zoom bombings” where hackers enter chat rooms to drop racist language and violent threats. The company had to fix a bug that allowed hackers to take over a Zoom user's Mac. It also had to change some of its policies after a motherboard report found Zoom sending data from users of its iOS app to Facebook for promotional purposes.
The company also claimed that its calls were encrypted and then traced if it was found to be wrong, a report in Intercept said. Colorado Senator Michael Bennet has asked Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom, for responses to privacy concerns, and the FTC is asked to investigate the company.
Skype was released in 2003 and is one of the longest-standing options for video chatting. It was bought by Microsoft in 2011 and is a free option for single or group video chats.
Benefits: Skype is free, easy to use, and widely known.  Disadvantages: The maximum number of people who can join a Skype meeting is 50, which makes it difficult for larger organizations or large gatherings.
Schools in New York are transitioning from Zoom to Microsoft Teams, a home collaboration platform. The app has grown in importance: the daily number of active users rose by more than 37% from 32 million to 44 million worldwide in just one week last month.
Advantages: The video platform enables 250 people in a meeting or up to 10,000 viewers through the presentation function. Users can easily share files, chat during meetings, and share the screen. It is free and can be integrated into Skype.
Disadvantages: The platform was mainly developed for companies or "teams". People who want individual access can do this via Skype accounts. Downloading Skype appears to be required to join meetings, as opposed to Zoom, which allows users to join meetings through their web browser.
The built-in video The call option for Apple products is a commonly overlooked option for group video chats, but it's powerful for several reasons.
Pros: Apple is known for its strong encryption practices, which means the company cannot see what you are sharing during a call. FaceTime is also free for Apple users and does not require an app to be downloaded.
Cons: FaceTime is only available to users with Apple devices, has a maximum of 32 users per call and does not allow people to join via link, which makes it difficult to get your online event known beforehand close.
Signal is an encrypted messaging app that is widely considered the most secure in the world – and is increasingly becoming mainstream. It allows large group chats, but not group video calls.
Advantages: It is encrypted and can be downloaded free of charge.
Disadvantages: The signal does not allow group video chats, but it is useful for one-to-one video chats that require strong security and encryption.
Cambridge, England-based video conferencing provider Starleaf was founded in 2008 and is becoming increasingly popular as a safer video conferencing alternative to Zoom. The call volume to StarLeaf has increased by more than 1,000% compared to February 2020, the company said by email.
Benefits: Starleaf is based in the UK and is subject to local data protection laws. The consumer can also choose where his user data is stored. It is used by NHS trusts in the UK.
Disadvantages: Instead of the individual consumer, it is aimed at organizations with more than 500 employees – a good option for your company, but possibly not for a happy hour with your friends. Starleaf can only accommodate up to 20 people per meeting and a maximum of 46 minutes per meeting.
This videoconferencing platform was founded in 2003 by a student in France and has become more popular as a safer platform.
Benefits: Jitsi Meet is free; Open source, ie external parties can check security. and encrypted.
Disadvantages: It allows a maximum of 75 participants in a chat (and a "better experience" with 35 or less).
A number of reports now exposed have claimed that houseparty has been violated – rumors the company now claims are part of a "paid commercial smear" from a rival.
Pros: This is perhaps the most entertaining video conferencing app with a range of games within the app, including trivia and drawing challenges.
Disadvantages: When you start a "house party", it appears that anyone can participate in your contacts, but it is possible to "lock" a room as soon as the people you want to be there are in are. According to a security researcher, there are also questionable privacy policies and collect a "worrying amount" of information.
For those of us who use Gmail, Google Hangouts is a seamless option for video chatting. Up to 150 people can join a chat, but only 25 people can join a video call at the same time.
Benefits: It's free and accessible.
Disadvantages: Use it knowing that Google has more of your data than it already does. A hangout can be connected through Gmail, the Hangouts app, or a Chrome extension, but requires a Gmail account.
The California-based video conferencing platform BlueJeans is a great option for work teams and meetings that require a little more security than a free zoom session.
Benefits: Videos are encrypted by default. BlueJeans can be accessed via a browser and does not require an account or the download of a new program.
Disadvantages: It's not free – BlueJeans cost $ 9.99 for a basic plan that allows meetings with up to 50 people and $ 13.99 for its "pro" product, the among other things, enables up to 75 people per meeting.