Video Conferencing

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IT Security

Video Conferencing Solutions

Video Conferencing (VC) has boomed during the ongoing crisis and lockdowns but not all VC solutions are created equal. There are many options out there and popularity does not always equal security.
 
So what are your options and what happens if you have to use a product that is known to be insecure? Which leads me nicely to …

Zoom

One of the popular options has become Zoom. I’ve been critical of Zoom in the past and I’d still strongly advise against using it at all. I recently spotted and read through a post from the Tom’s Guide website: “Zoom security issues: Here’s everything that’s gone wrong (so far)” that delves into the history of security, marketing and legal issues Zoom has had in the past year or so.

You can read through the whole thing if you like (it’s interesting if you’re into that sort of thing!) but I’ll summarise it for you:
 

If you have to use Zoom - don't install the application! Use the web version.

 
When you click on a Zoom link it will prompt you to install the client but there is another option to “join from your browser”. This is a safer option and the only way I would join a Zoom meeting – even if I’m not discussing state secrets! Using the browser limits the access the Zoom client has to your PC and mitigates some of the vulnerabilities known to exist in the desktop client.
 
If you have installed the application you can remove it from Windows by using the uninstall option in System Settings or, in Windows 10, you should be able to right-click on the application in the Start Menu and choose uninstall. Unfortunately, if you have installed one of the malicious versions of the Zoom client, uninstalling it won’t remove the malware from your PC.
 

Better Options

Cisco WebEx

  • Website: https://www.webex.com/
  • Cost: Free
  • Maximum Participants: 100
  • Time Limit: 50 minutes
  • Features Include: Custom Backgrounds, Recording, Screen Sharing, Participant Controls, Polls, Lockable Meetings, and more.

Cisco WebEx is a professional, secure solution. It has a client that can be downloaded and installed for a better experience or it can be used directly from a web browser.

Only the meeting host needs to register for an account. Participants can join the meeting via a link as long as they have a valid email address.

Currently the free version is limited to 50 minute meetings. The paid versions offer unlimited meetings, dial-in options and 24/7 support. See the WebEx Plan Comparison for more information.

Google Meet

Author Bias Alert: This is my personal favourite at the moment!

  • Website: https://meet.google.com/
  • Cost: Free
  • Maximum Participants: 100
  • Time Limit: 24 Hours*
  • Features Include: Layout Options, Screen Sharing, Participant Controls, Live Captions and more.

Google has had an interesting journey with chat and video applications over the years. They have several products that are very similar (Google Duo, Google Hangouts, Google Chat) but Google Meet has become their “Enterprise Class” video solution.

There is no client for Windows or MacOS with Google Meet, it is all via the web browser. Like WebEx, only the host needs to set up a Google Account and then other participants can join via a link. There are apps in the Google and Apple store to allow people to join from Apple or Android devices.

Google Meet is part of G Suite which includes a range of Google Business Applications and Email. If you already have a G Suite plan then you already have access to Google Meet.

If you don’t have, and don’t want, G Suite you can just sign up for Google Meet for additional features such as increased participant limits (up to 250), meeting length (300 hours), recording, local dial in numbers, etc. See the Google Meet Pricing Plans for more details.

*Until Sept 30, 2020 the free version allows 24 hour meetings. From Oct 1 the limit will probably revert to 1 hour unless the pandemic is still going and they decide to extend the offer.

Microsoft Teams

  • Website: Microsoft Teams
  • Cost: Free
  • Maximum Participants: 50
  • Time Limit: Unspecified
  • Features Include: Custom backgrounds, Screen Sharing, Participant Controls, Meeting Lobby and more.
Microsoft Teams is a little different to WebEx and Google Meet in that it includes a whole range of features such as file storage, collaboration and chat as well as video conferencing.
 
There is a Teams application you can download for Windows, MacOS, Apple iOS or Android. There is also a web browser version if you don’t want to install Teams. (Although on Windows PCs, if you have Office, it has a nasty habit of installing itself anyway!)
 
Microsoft Teams is included with Office 365 and Microsoft 365 plans so you may already have access to Teams. There is also a slightly more limited free option available. You can compare the features and pricing on the Microsoft Teams Pricing Page.
 
Teams is a great option for people with Office/Microsoft 365 plans as it integrates really well with Outlook and other Office applications.

Other Options

Those are just the three options I would recommend. I was going to say “in no particular order” but I’ve just realised I did them alphabetically!

There are many, many more and a quick Google search for “Video Conference Solutions” will provide you with more options than you want!

Some of the other ones I have heard good things about, or used in the past, include:

Video Conferencing

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