In a time when we are starved for human connections in our personal lives and virtual meeting options in our business lives, Zoom came along. It was slick and well marketed. Sure the free version was limited to 40 minute calls if you had a party of 3 or more, but it competed nicely in that personal, “I miss you” and “Let’s talk to Grandma and Grandpa” sort of space.
But where it really shined was for large group and business communications—a meeting hall or board room. Better than a phone call, it was fairly easy to install, configure and use…
And then the bad news hit. It wasn’t just “zoom bombing”—the ability of complete strangers to walk or lurk in your meetings uninvited and unannounced. Zoom allowed hackers to take over you video camera without your permission. Other weaknesses allowed room links to be hacked so that malicious software could be injected into Windows machines. Analytic data from Zoom calls were being sent to Facebook—even when users didn’t have a Facebook account—or to LinkedIn. Zoom admitted that it doesn’t encrypt communications in every case, and when it does, some of those encryption keys might have been made in China and controlled by Chinese agents.
Which is to say that many companies, schools, agencies, and even the Government of Canada no longer trust Zoom in their organizations.
Now you may think that Zoom is fine for your friendly visit with family or an on-line pub night with friends and maybe you’re right. But identity theft usually happens in a slow trickle of information over time: you share your birth date in one conversation, your dog’s name in another, and then someone has enough to ask your bank to change your password.
What else can we use?
Businesses with even basic G-Suite have a free copy of Google Hangout Meet that allows then to host meetings with up to 50 users at once (Google raised that limit to 150 and allow recording of meetings during the COVID crisis). While Meet only allows you to see 4 other participants at any given time, a free Google Chrome Extension called Google Meet Grid View removes that limit:
If you need a more heavy-weight conferencing package, GoToMeeting and its cousins, GoToTraining and GoToWebinar, are available. Atlas is a sales and integration partner with GoTo and can help you determine what product is best for your needs. Need a secure virtual meeting platform that is easy to use? Ask for a demo for either of these products.
For more information about Zoom’s challenges, go here, or here, or here, or here.