With so many of us staying at home, we’re resorting to digital channels to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues. Video calls have become the norm. However, do the popular video conferencing platforms and solutions truly protect your data? What about security? Here are some tips to help keep you safe online.
Since the start of 2020, the videoconferencing app Zoom has grown by 2.22 million active users. In just a few weeks, it added more users than it did throughout the whole of 2019, according to a study by CNBC. Between 11 and 19 March, Microsoft Teams added 12 million users. Why so popular? The mandate for most Western nations to stay at home due to the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted most of our social and professional activities, and we’re having to do a lot more online.
With physical distancing becoming essential to prevent the spread of the disease, we’re needing to find other ways to stay in touch and work remotely. A whole host of tools have emerged – some newer than others and some more than transparent than others about data usage and security. Here are some tips to help you share your latest news with loved ones without over-sharing your data.
Working from home, a new normal
In professions where teleworking is possible, many challenges are arising: organising discussions between employees who are all working from home, maintaining the same level of information between teams and avoiding the feeling of isolation. On the front line more tools are being employed too, particularly video and audio conferences. Discord, Zoom, House Party, Skype, Microsoft Teams… there are so many choices it can be difficult to navigate them.
There are also real risks for companies for companies where security breaches can have a serious impact. On 31 March, Elon Musk’s SpaceX company banned the use of Zoom due to hacking and privacy concerns.
Indeed Zoom has come in for a lot of criticism, including the fact that the app sends data to Facebook, even if the user doesn't have an account on the platform. There are also allegations that the company has lied about its ability to encrypt communications end-to-end. In an article dated 31 March, The Intercept revealed this was not true.
With this in mind, it’s important to take a few safety measures so you can keep in touch with people while protecting your data.
- Read up online about applications before downloading them and watch out for fake news.
- Stick to known solutions such as Skype, Microsoft teams, Google Hangouts, Slack, Cisco Webex… or open source such as Jitsi Meet.
And above all, don’t forget, not everyone wants to communicate via digital. Sometimes a good old-fashioned phone call, postcard or letter works wonders when it comes to sharing news.