Video conferencing: how to determine the most secure applications

Today, a very large number of people have had to make a fairly rapid and often difficult transition from their usual method of working to that of telework.

Because of coronavirus and the extension of protection and general containment measures, companies are currently obliged to use remote work as much as possible. Such a situation has led to the evolution of remote collaboration platforms, particularly video conferencing applications. Making these computer tools the stars of the moment when it comes to digital platforms. These applications have seen their users multiply beyond the expectations of the publishers themselves. However, this success did not fail to raise some problems that have tainted the reputation of some collaboration tools, especially Zoom, which was at the center of several scandals. The security issue was automatically imposed.

While several SMEs and other companies, without thinking, have opted to use some of these platforms, lately they have been surprised to realize that from the beginning, they should have paid more attention to certain criteria for choosing their tools of remote collaboration. Even beyond companies, individuals have also begun to use these applications extensively for several reasons. Whether for fun reasons such as playing video games for example or staying in touch with your family, video conferencing software is all the rage. However, their security policies regarding the processing of user data as well as on the issue of privacy are not always satisfactory. While the publishers of these tools continue to say that they are doing their best to improve some of the aspects, the fact remains that the problem is still unresolved and may cause more damage. The proof is that some applications have even been banned from use in some organizations.

In an attempt to determine the level of security offered by video conferencing applications, Mozilla published its study on the security of its tools, called "Privacy Not Included." Of the 15 that were processed, 12 solutions met the basic criteria for computer security. This study was conducted on the basis of certain safety standards considered minimum by the Foundation in the following criteria:

– Data encryption, which must be present at a certain level.

– Security updates, which must be issued under regular conditions when users sign up.

– Password management, where only strong passwords are accepted as a means of authentication.

– clarity of privacy policies, so they are easily understandable to users.

– the implementation of a Bounty Bounty program or any other activity in the auction program that allows auctions to discover and report security vulnerabilities.

However, that does not mean that we should generalize things. Indeed, an application can meet all these criteria and not be able to be completely secure. But, the user will at least have the assurance that some basic security measures are taken to protect them.

The 12 applications that passed the Mozilla test are:

-Zoom

-Google Meet

-Facetime (Apple)

Skype

-Facebook Messenger

-WhatsApp

-Jitsi Meet

-Signal

-Microsoft Teams

BlueJeans

GoTo Meeting

-Cisco WebEx.

The three bad students include Discord, Houseparty and Doxy.me (a telemedicine tool). The problem of HouseParty, properties of the game publishing house Epic games essentially poses the password problem. The requirements of the tool are not correcting enough in terms of password composition so that "12345" is considered to be a good password. The Foundation also notes that this platform collects information from its users when they connect to the Internet. On the Discord side, the result of this study does not correspond to their commitments to take: "The privacy of users very seriously. With regard to passwords, we have today updated our settings to prevent the use of passwords that are not complex enough or that have previously been compromised by another service. In addition, we use a feature called "IP Location Lock" that provides in-depth protection for our users and encourages all our users to adopt two-factor authentication."

On the Doxy.me side, the same problem was revealed when related to the level of passwords. Worse still, the tool does not offer a dual-factor authentication option.

The Mozilla Foundation study aims to highlight the importance of choosing the right application in this kind of context: "With a record number of people using video calling apps to work, teach and contact their friends, it is more important than ever that this technology is reliable," notes Ashley Boyd, Vice President of Mozilla Advocacy. She added: "The good news is that the usage boom has put pressure on these companies to improve the privacy and security of all users, which should be a signal to the rest of the technology industry."

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