One result of 2020 has been a welcome change for some: the shift to working remotely instead of in an office. This move has prompted a sudden increased interest in online meeting platforms, which are now essential for remote workers. There has been some concern, however, about security of these apps – stories of meetings being hacked are definitely off-putting.
What are the worries?
Companies are always alert to the danger of confidential materials falling into the wrong hands and using online meeting rooms adds an additional risk. Safety and security depends on data protection policies and end-to-end encryption of messages and calls. Security breaches are more common: the term “Zoom bombings” has been coined to describe how hackers invade a meeting spewing profanities and hate.
Zoom has also come under fire for apparently sending data to Facebook for advertising. Houseparty too faced accusations of less-than-stellar privacy regulations, not to mention Google Hangouts, which collects your data – as Google tends to do.
The most popular choices
Whether you’re using a meeting platform for business or leisure, there are many things to bear in mind, including how secure your interactions will be. Some examples of online meeting platforms are Skype, Slack, Zoom, and Google Meet, each with their own pros and cons.
Most people working on computers are somewhat familiar with Skype as it’s been around since 2003. It can be a trusty and reliable meeting platform, despite some audio and video issues. Security-wise, the main concern has arisen when using Skype to call phones, as your information gets passed on to Microsoft who also requires payment information. Your interactions can be recorded by Microsoft, as Skype doesn’t use end-to-end encryption.
Slack has become very popular for business meetings in particular and offers chat rooms, direct messages and private groups. In 2015 Slack implemented two-factor authentication after hackers gained access to users’ contact details and passwords. This seemed to be a smart move, but in 2018 they adjusted regulations to allow the company access to public and private chat content – one of several security risks with this software.
Zoom is one of the newer options and just about the most popular. While it is very user-friendly, there are significant security issues which make it inadvisable to use for confidential business discussions – there have been numerous hacking breaches and even the risk that a user’s Mac, webcam and mic can be taken over by a third party.
Google professes to have watertight protections in place but unfortunately even this platform, which has been made free for private users, has its vulnerabilities. Despite an emphasis on security, Google Meet also collects your data.
While each option has its pros and cons there is no one frontrunner when it comes to having secure online meetings. Using virtual platforms automatically means that all your interactions can be recorded and stored – and you have no control over where it goes next.