The ongoing pandemic has pushed a series of online communications solutions into the spotlight. No wonder – almost half of the world’s population has seen its social interactions limited in one way or another this year. Millions of people work from home, many others are forced to take “vacations” due to their workplaces’ closure due to the public health situation, and kids can only meet their teachers through various online services.
There are many alternatives to choose from when it comes to keeping in touch with others, some of them familiar, others not so much. But which one of them will keep you safe from exposure? The privacy concerns about Zoom and the rumors about Houseparty hacking its users make many users question their choices online.
Keeping your personal information safe online is especially popular today when a never-before-seen number of people and businesses interact almost exclusively through the internet. Here are some services that can offer exactly that: a reasonably safe way to communicate online, even when it comes to sensitive information.
Back in the day, Skype used a solution that put people in direct contact with each other, not using a central server to relay the messages. This changed when Microsoft absorbed the service. Now, Skype doesn’t have end-to-end encryption as it did back in the day… but its professional counterpart does.
Microsoft Teams is a viable alternative when it comes to free online communications with teams – families and businesses alike. It has a two-factor authentication, support for one-on-one, and group video calls, encryption, real-time collaboration, and comes with cloud storage for individuals and teams. All this is available both in the free tier of the toolkit and the various paid tiers aimed at small businesses to corporations.
Google’s corporate video communication tool Meet was, for a long time, reserved for paying customers as part of G Suite. In the wake of the current events, in turn, the big G transformed it into a free tool available to anyone.
Google Meet is a video calling and conferencing service that comes with all of Google’s security features to back it up. Its free tier comes with features like group conversations with up to 100 participants, live captioning, adjustable layouts, screen sharing, and instant messaging, among others. Plus, it comes with full encryption of the data in transit, and the power of authentication through a Google account.
Finally, let us mention a tool that may not have a video conferencing option but is recognized as perhaps the safest and most secure one-on-one text and video communications tool today: Signal Messenger.
Signal is a cross-platform communications tool that offers state of the art end-to-end encryption based on the open-source Signal Protocol – in short, it’s a communications platform where privacy and security are not an option but the basis of the entire service. Whistleblower Edward Snowden, security experts, and even the European Commission are recommending it – in the case of the latter, of course, it’s not for internal communications (where they use purpose-built systems) but all external, public-facing ones.
And, to make it even more attractive, Signal is completely free, open-source, and available on every platform, no matter if it’s a Linux PC or an iOS-running smartphone.