CyberScout

Rethinking Zoom? How WebEx, Teams, and Google Meet and Duo Compare on Privacy and Security

Zoom Webex
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If you're among the many looking for a new video conferencing tool after adding "zoombombing" to your vocabulary, you're in luck. While a one-size-fits-all solution doesn't exist, there are many other options with proven security features. Here's a roundup of some of Zoom's competitors and their privacy and security features.

Webex

The Webex video conference platform has been around since 1995 and is a favorite of the privacy-conscious health care, information technology, and financial services industries. This is partially due to the fact that all three industries commonly relied on virtual meetings well before the Covid-19 pandemic, but mostly because Webex has a reputation for maintaining robust cybersecurity. Cisco, its parent company, is an industry leader in network hardware, software, and security products.

Webex offers end-to-end encryption. Using it, however, limits popular video options, including remote computer sharing and personal meeting rooms. Worth noting: Webex and Cisco products have had security issues in the past.

Microsoft Teams

Like Zoom, Microsoft Teams experienced an uptick in the recent crisis, in part due to its integration with the company's flagship Office365 cloud and productivity services. Microsoft says that Teams are encrypted "in transit and at rest," but details about support for end-to-end encryption are vague.

Like Webex, one advantage of Teams is that its parent company is a major provider of networking, software, and cybersecurity services. Microsoft has an internal rating system for the security of its products, and has designated Teams to be Tier-D compliant, which means that it can adhere to the strictest government and industry security standards and legal requirements.

Neither Microsoft nor Teams are immune to security vulnerabilities, but as a company, Microsoft's bandwidth to address them when they occur is probably unparalleled. Microsoft also has a more transparent privacy policy and a better track record when it comes to protecting user and customer data than many of its competitors, including Zoom.

Google Hangouts/Google Duo

Google offers Hangouts and Duo as its two primary video meeting platforms--both offer "free" and paid versions bundled in with its G Suite line of applications. While Google Hangouts offers similar functionality to Zoom, it has a limit of 25 attendees per video conference. Other considerations include a long history of security and privacy concerns and the fact that Google Hangouts don't offer end-to-end encryption.

Duo is end-to-end encrypted, and can support video meetings with up to 12 attendees.

Like Cisco and Microsoft, Google has more resources dedicated to cybersecurity, but the company has a lengthy track record of mining user data, especially for "free" services. The company is also notorious for quickly and unceremoniously dropping support for many of its projects, and has done so with several previous video conferencing and meeting apps.

Is Zoom Worth Sticking With?

It depends on your business needs. Zoom's rapid increase in popularity in an already crowded market is a testament to its many qualities, features, and ease of use.

The company has made some misleading claims about user privacy and data, and the recent discovery of multiple serious security vulnerabilities will test the company's ability to support and sustain its user base.

A good sign is that Zoom announced a 90-day freeze on any new features so it can focus on security and privacy issues. This move could help the platform and the company to continue the meteoric rise in the number of people using the service.

For industries with stringent data privacy and security requirements, platforms like Webex or Microsoft Teams may be a better fit, but every company, platform, and technology has its own set of drawbacks and vulnerabilities. The main takeaway is that every company, regardless of size, needs to have a solid understanding of what its own internal security needs are in order to make an informed decision.

This story originally appeared on Inc.com.