Due to the lockdown measures brought about by Covid-19, working remotely from home has become a fact of life. This has seen a sharp increase in the use of video conference technology and of the most popular, is Zoom. By mid-March, the usage of Zoom had risen by as much as 67% but it seems the increase in Zoom’s popularity has led to some intense scrutiny over concerns for their poor security and privacy practices.
Even though Zoom has made efforts to fix the security flaws, they don’t seem to have reassured anyone with countries such as a Taiwan banning the American-based company, having found them to be sending data through China unencrypted.
With the sanctions brought about by GDPR, you can’t be too careful when it comes to the security of the data you handle. So, to make sure you’re making the best choice for you, we’ve pulled together a pros and cons list of secure alternatives to Zoom for you to consider.
Our top 3 secure alternatives to Zoom
Whereby is our favourite alternative to Zoom. We love that it is not only free, it’s widely accessible and supported by most devices and browsers! Simply sign up for free, decide your room name, then share the link provided to your guests. They can then join you via the link in their favourite browser or app, without having to download or sign up for anything. There are no time limits and it has the ability to share your screen, which makes for a great alternative to Zoom (the free version). Also, all its video and audio are encrypted, meaning that if anyone tried to intercept it, they wouldn’t be able to see or hear what you are saying.
There are only two cons to whereby. The first being that the chat room access link is publicly accessible however, you can “lock” a room once all your guests have joined the room.
The second con is that the free version is limited to 4 people per chat room, including yourself. However, if you require additional features like branding or more participants, premium packages are available from just over £8 per month.
One of Apple’s core values is the belief that privacy should be a fundamental human right, so as you can imagine, FaceTime is a very secure alternative option to Zoom, whether that be videoing calling with your friends or with your business clients and with just under 50% of people in the UK owning an Apple device, there’s a good chance the people you need to video call have access to the FaceTime app.
We think FaceTime also makes a great alternative to Zoom as it supports group calls of up to 32 people for free! Additionally, it brings those who are actively speaking to the front of the video call by enlarging their video bigger and positioning it in front of the rest. And just like Whereby.com, there are no costs or time limitations to a call. Other features to note are, the ability to record the video call using the screen recorder on iOS and to take pictures using the camera button in the FaceTime app.
However, beyond the basic group call features and fun video effects, it doesn’t have any of the business-centric features of Zoom such as screen or file sharing and whilst there is a fair chance of the people you know owning an Apple device, there’s also a fair chance that someone may not have an Apple device and therefore, you may be limited to whom you can call.
With WhatsApp reaching a record 2 Billion active users this year, there’s a very high chance that you can find and connect with everyone, as long as you know their mobile number. We think that wide use alone also makes WhatsApp a great alternative to Zoom but what also makes it such a good alternative is that just like the software previously mentioned, it is also free for anyone to download and sign up.
However, it also has its limitations. Similarly to the free plan of Whereby.com, video group calls are limited to 4 people. But, the main reason that it didn’t make the top spot for us is that although, as with Whereby.com and Apple’s FaceTime, the video calls are end-to-end encrypted, WhatsApp is reported frequently for its security flaws and the spreading of misinformation, which makes us a little sceptical in how secure the platform is when compared to others.
In short, we think if you’re going to pick any of these three secure alternatives to Zoom, we recommend choosing whereby.com. It’s very hard to find a free alternative that stacks up with all the comparative features of Zoom, whilst providing a truly secure space for sharing sensitive information across the internet. However, if Whereby is not for you then why not try Apple’s FaceTime or WhatsApp as one of the secure alternatives to Zoom?
Either way remember, just because something is the most popular, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best or the safest to use. Always do your research, before using any platform to share sensitive data and make sure it’s right for you and safe to do what you’re using it for.
If you’ve got any security concerns about the software you use, feel free to get in touch and we’ll do our best to answer.
April 8th, 2020