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Credit: Christin Hume

Microsoft Teams may be a more secure alternative

Thanks to (you guessed it!) COVID-19, most folks are finding themselves participating in more video chats than ever before. Everyone’s work meetings, happy hours and cowboy-themed birthday parties now take place virtually. Zoom, one of the most popular videoconferencing apps out there, has been the go-to for many because it’s user-friendly. But recently, it’s also come under fire for security concerns. Oh, and for “Zoom-bombing.”

That’s the newest trend for Internet trolls who seem to have nothing better to do during this pandemic than wreak havoc on private meetings. (Why can’t they just grow a sourdough starter like everyone else?) “Because of the way Zoom creates their meeting codes, you can pretty much slam your keyboard and come up with one,” says Kayla Whitesel, business analyst and project manager at Victoria-based tech firm Regroove Solutions. Regroove finds cloud-based solutions for businesses, and is a Microsoft Partner.

Besides being prone to attacks by bad-mannered strangers, Zoom comes with other privacy concerns. Although Zoom Video Communications is working hard to update its security, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan has admitted that the California-based company “moved too fast” and has been playing catch-up as its app grows more popular.

Whitesel suggests that businesses pay special attention to where data is hosted when deciding which videoconferencing service to use. “Zoom, for the most part, does not host data in Canada,” she says. That data includes meeting recordings, chats during the meeting and any files shared. You can choose to have your data stored in Canada if you purchase a higher-level Zoom license, Whitesel explains, but the free version hosts it in the U.S. This creates jurisdiction issues: “If the data is hosted in the States, does that mean that the States can look at it whenever they want?”

For business purposes, Whitesel recommends using Microsoft Teams instead. Like Zoom, Teams has a free version, but all of its data is stored in Canada. “It’s a business and a productivity tool more than a meeting tool,” Whitesel says. Teams has options to create smaller groups of people (“teams”), collaborate on files, private message and share screens, as well as audio and video chat. “Zoom has those functionalities, too, so a lot of it comes down to security and topics of conversation,” Whitesel notes.

Different businesses have different needs—so make sure to do your research before selecting a videoconferencing service for your workplace. Whitesel herself uses Zoom for non-work meetings, where security isn’t a concern. (By all means, go ahead with that cowboy-themed Zoom bash.)