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Business employees joining a video conference call

How to Choose Your Video Conference Apps: Zoom, Microsoft Teams & Skype

The outbreak of Covid-19 has forced business to adapt to remote work quickly. An important aspect of working remotely is video conferencing.  Therefore, utilizing the best applications and services are essential for a smooth remote experience.

The three most popular Video Conference applications are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Skype. Therefore, we’ll review them here to make sure you have all of the information you need to make the best decision.

Zoom

The Zoom conferencing application works on Mac, PC, Android and IOS. They offer a free plan that hosts no larger than 100 people. There is a paid option for medium and small businesses for $15 to $20 a month. For larger businesses, the application offers a $20 a month plan for a minimum of 50 people per Zoom call.

Zoom has HD video and audio, video recording capabilities, screen-sharing and co- annotation. Gmail, Outlook and iCal support Zoom meeting scheduling. You can set a meeting on your email service by integrating it with your calendar. Hosts can schedule meetings and send notification to attendees.

If you can’t use the microphone or camera, Zoom has a chat feature that allows you to communicate through text. This is useful during meetings or presentations where participants need to ask questions without interrupting the host.

You can sign up for Zoom free by creating an account with email or singing in with either Google or Facebook.

When using Zoom you must keep in mind their recent controversy and security issues. There have been concerns over the app’s privacy risks involving “zoombombing.” The education department in the US as well as several businesses have instructed employees to switch from Zoom to Microsoft Teams while the issues are resolved by the company.

However, you can still use the application if you take simple security measures to protect your meetings. You can use a meeting exclusive ID or enable Zoom’s wait feature “Waiting Room” that allows you to see who wants to join your meeting before giving access.

Microsoft Teams

If your company uses Microsoft Office 365, you already have access to Teams. The application offers the same features as any other conferencing platform like audio calls, video conferencing and chat. As a Microsoft platform it can integrate with other office applications like PowerPoint and excel for meeting that involve going over figures or presentations. It’s also compatible with other office apps like Word for file sharing.

On Teams you can video conference with 250 people at once. Also, you can live present with a maximum 10,000 people. You can talk to colleagues privately or over certain channels. You can even focus attention to a group or an individual with the mention feature.

Meetings can be scheduled through the Teams application itself or on Outlook.

It appears Microsoft Teams doesn’t share the same vulnerabilities Zoom does. It stated in a blog post that it doesn’t use your camera features to track participant attention, or use personal data to create ads. Microsoft Teams, it appears, is making a point to distinguish itself from Zoom in these ways.

Like Zoom you can download a free version but if you have Office 365 it comes included. In March of 2020, Microsoft made the free version accessible to businesses and schools for use without a subscription to Office 365. Microsoft is offering a six month free trial of its new Office 365 E1 for businesses that don’t already have Teams licenses. Moreover, there are business plans that have Teams included start at $5 a month per user.

Skype

Skype can sustain up to 50 people per video call which is good for business meetings. It can also record calls and caption if necessary. Skype integrates with mobile devices and tablets and functions like a VoIP phone service. It has caller ID, voicemail, file sharing, split screen and screen sharing.

Additionally, it has a chat for text communication. The benefit of Skype is these features are available for free upon downloading the application.

Hacker cracks into a business web meeting

Zoom: Tips and Tricks for Safe Video Conferencing

In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, local and state governments in the U.S. have instituted shelter-in-place orders, quarantines and lockdowns. As a result, video chat programs have skyrocketed in popularity as people work from home and try to coordinate meetings digitally.

Zoom has become the most popular of the video chat apps. Unfortunately, Zoom’s security flaws like, “Zoombombing” and built in tracking features made it less than ideal for businesses and employees that want to keep themselves as safe as possible.

It has also been subject to a number of scandals and lawsuits due to these security issues and CEO Yaun has since stated Zoom will freeze features updates to address issues.

Data Issues & Privacy

Another big issue is Zoom was not end-to-end encrypted.  They are “transport encrypted, meaning data is accessible to Zoom. Furthermore, user emails, files and photos were being leaked

Here are some vulnerabilities to keep in mind while using video conference and a few things you can do to avoid them.

Zoom Bombing

As mentioned previously, zoombombing is one of the issues Zoom has with its video chat app. It’s when users of Zoom get their meetings highjacked by outside actors during a video conference. This is a type of cyber attack that’s proving increasingly more dangerous as schools, universities and private companies are jumping on platform to continue their work.

To protect yourself and your business from “Zoom bombing”, the FBI recommends the following safety measures:

  • • Ensure meetings are private. This is achieved by either requiring a password for entry or controlling guest access from a waiting room.
  • • Consider your security requirements when choosing a service. If you need end-to-end encryption, verify that the videoconference service has it.
  • • Ensure software is updated.  Using an older version of the app could leave you open to a security breach.

As you can see, this doesn’t only apply to Zoom alone. These tips are applicable to all video conference services. However, the two most used applications now are Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Use a Domain Based Approach

A domain based approach to security in video conferencing allows system administrators to assign different levels of permission to users. This is achieved either by the video conference service or in house IT. This means if a hacker attempts to video call someone in the company, the hacker will have to wait until someone with the relevant credentials signs on and grants him access.

Selling Your Data

Like Facebook, Zoom has been caught with its hands in the cookie jar when it comes to user data. According to an article by Vice motherboard, Zoom sends user data to Facebook regardless of the user having a Facebook account.

Zoom uses Facebook’s software development kit to employ features into their apps in an easier way.  However, this has the added result of sending data to Facebook. For Zoom users, that means Facebook knows whenever a user opened Zoom and from which device it was accessed. Moreover, if a user is using a phone it would tell Facebook what carrier they had, their location and their unique advertising identifier.

Motherboard reported Zoom would stop sending certain data to Facebook.

In this case, either use a different Video Conference app that guarantees end-to-end encryption. If you’re using Zoom, review your security setting and try minimizing permission to access as much as possible.

Put a Video Conference Policy In Place

A video conference policy lets you set expectations and limits when using a video conference app like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Companies should outline specific protocols for using Video conferencing that address the following questions:

  1. Who gets permission to record a video conference from everyone on the call? Can recording be done?
  2.  Can personal mobile devices be used on a conference call? If so when and under what circumstances?
  3.  When can sensitive information be discussed and with whom?
  4.  When and how should the cameras be used?
  5.  When and how should microphones be used?
  6.  Who gets remote control access to cameras and who doesn’t?

When using Video Conferencing

Remember to address employees and co-workers cordially, keeping in mind safe practices and procedures as if you were in office. Video conferencing applications are a useful tool but they aren’t perfect and should be used with caution.

If you have any questions or concerns about remote work optimizationcyber security or cloud technology give us a call or visit our blog for more articles and content.