Why We’re Switching to More Secure Video Conference Platform
As working from home is becoming the new normal, and both internal and external meetings are taking place virtually more than ever, organizations are evaluating video conferencing systems and remote collaboration solutions with a fine-toothed comb. Following the latest news about security vulnerabilities with Zoom, we decided to take a closer look at other options and see which one would meet our needs better.
Please keep in mind that our evaluation focused strictly on various video conferencing solutions’ core conferencing features, and none of their collaboration features. We used publicly available information on the vendors’ websites and did not speak with any of their sales and marketing representatives as part of our evaluation. We also tried the video conferencing platforms ourselves to evaluate the subjective areas.
We want to share the results of this evaluation with you as well as the methodology we used to arrive at this conclusion. But before we jump into the details, let’s talk about the findings so you don’t have to scroll until the end of the page!
The Most Secure Video Conferencing Platforms
The most secure video conferencing solutions based on the categories selected for this assessment and our personal testing were GoToMeeting and BlueJeans. Their security capabilities, price, and quality of service and ease of use made them stand out over the other solutions. GoToMeeting beats the rest of the solutions because of the quality of the video, sound, and the number of advanced features (supports annotation, integrations, allows you to share individual tabs, and makes it easy to see what you are sharing). BlueJeans’s video and sound quality are also excellent, and we found it super easy to use.
We also want to give a special mention to Google Meet. It ranked third in our evaluation, but would have been a contender for first place if it wasn’t for the bad quality of the video calls during our testing. It is also easy to use, has excellent security features, and is currently offering free upgrading to advanced Google Meet to all G Suite customers until September 30. However, it’s also missing some of the advanced user-friendly features that Zoom and GoToMeeting offer.
As you may have guessed, we currently use Zoom and it came in last place because of the video conferencing security and privacy issues that came to light last month. However, we have to say that Zoom beats everyone else in terms of video and sound quality, integrations, and advanced features.
Secure Video Conferencing Evaluation Criteria
- Cisco Webex
- Google Meet
- Microsoft Teams
- Amazon Chime
- Zoho Meeting
Below are the categories we considered for this video conferencing assessment, and the weighting that we assigned to each:
If you have any comments or questions about the assessments, we would love to hear from you!
The Details of Our Secure Video Conferencing Comparison
Zoom Video Conferencing Security Evaluation
Popular video-conferencing platform Zoom has apologized for issues with the security of its online service, and announced a number of new measures to make the platform more secure for its users. This comes at a time when multiple countries and organizations are banning its use. Issues such as data hacking, routing information through China, and “Zoombombing” — where individuals can crash sessions — are high on the organization’s radar according to Zoom CEO Eric Yuan. He’s announced a number of steps being taken to combat these problems.
- Ability to be administered and customized centrally – Allows for customization of web portals, email templates, landing page, and system administrators can centrally manage settings for users.
- Compatibility and dial-in capabilities – Criteria is met. Agents available for popular OSs, web calling, and toll free dial-in are available (for paid versions).
- Performance, capacity and video quality – 50-500 users (10,000 webinar). Zoom offers high-definition and high-quality video.
- Overall security – Zoom uses TLS 1.2 with AES-256 to protect signalling and uses AES-128 (to protect streaming media, MFA, encrypted user password, and OAuth-based provisioning. Zoom also allows users to pick the data center location.
- Price – Four variants of Zoom meeting plans for business, with different features: Basic: free, Pro: $14.99/mo/host, Business: $19.99/mo/host, and Enterprise: $19.99 /mo/host. The cost for a SMB with 50 employees is $999.50 per month.
- Ease of use, looks, and other subjective comments – Zoom is easy to set up, use, and manage.
- Integrations – 26 key integrations ranging from productivity, security and compliance, marketing, scheduling, and process automation. Includes add-in, plug-in, and extension capabilities. The Zoom app makes it easy to instantly start or join a meeting directly from Slack, include Zoom meeting details in Calendly events sent to invitees, and integrates with G Suite enterprise products like Gmail and Google Drive.
- Recording – supports recording; the host can enable participants to record or not. Clients can send cloud meeting recordings on Zoom directly to the Google Drive folder.
Cisco Webex Video Conferencing Security Evaluation
Cisco Webex Meetings delivers over 6 billion meetings per month, offering industry-leading video and audio conferencing with sharing, chat, and more. However in March 2020, Cisco Webex registered a record 324 million attendees and 73 million meetings in March, with usage more than doubling in the Americas, as the coronavirus-led lockdowns forced businesses to have employees work from home.
- Ability to be administered and customized centrally – Allows for customization of email templates, company branding, ringtones, app look and feel.. Administrators use Cisco Webex Control Hub a central interface to manage the organization users, assign services, view usage analytics, configure and customize organization-wide settings
- Compatibility and dial in capabilities – Cisco Webex agents are available for popular OS, web calling and toll free dial-in are available. However, this is not an option because of the compatibility issues with Linux clients, transcripts, meeting notes, join before host in a meeting when end to end encrypted video conferencing is enabled.
- Performance, capacity and video quality – 50-200 (webcast 100,00), HD video available.
- Overall security – TLS 1.2 support, Personal Room locking and unlocking, Secure meeting settings by default. Strong passwords by default for every meeting. After a session is established over TLS, all media streams are encrypted. Media transmitted via UDP, encrypted with AES 128, HMAC ensures authentication, integrity, PIN Lock Remote Wipe Block File Share Block External Coms and supports end to end encryption. It is headquartered in California, U.S. with data centers in California and Australia. Webex supports MFA via SAML 2.0 federated SSO.
- Price – Four variants of Webex meeting plan for business, with different features: Personal – free, Starter – $13.50/mo/host Plus $17.95/mon/host Business- $26.95/mon/host. The cost for a mid-size team of 50 employees per month is $897.50.
- Ease of use, looks and other subjective comments – easy to use and setup—even for first-time users.
- Integrations – Integrates with 148+ applications ranging from productivity, security and compliance, including developer tools to scheduling. Cisco Webex Meetings provides integration with Slack to meet and collaborate, GSuite users can schedule Webex meetings and Webex Personal Room meetings directly from Google Calendar or Gmail and use the Google Drive bot for Webex teams to stay notified on all the latest changes to shared files, folders, and other critical content. Cisco Webex integration with Calendly is achieved through a custom integration using calendly’s API and connectors
- Recording – supports encrypted video conferencing cloud recordings. AI-powered Webex Assistant creates action items like, record meetings, take notes, set up future meetings and automatically transcribe the entire meeting in real-time.
GoToMeeting Secure Video Conferencing Evaluation
GoToMeeting is a web-hosted service created and marketed by LogMeIn (acquired from Citrix by LogMeIn in January 2017). GoToMeeting is considered one of the easiest conferencing services to use, and its video conferencing feature keeps the app relevant in today’s competitive market.
- Ability to be administered and customized centrally – Account admins can use the Admin Center to manage users and settings for their entire account and customize the company’s landing page (welcome emails, contact info, logo etc)
- Compatibility and dial in capabilities – GoToMeeting agents are available for popular OS, web calling and toll free dial in are available. GoToMeeting offers toll-free phone numbers (for paid subscribers)). A Call Me feature allows hosts and attendees to receive a phone call from GoToMeeting when a session starts to automatically connect attendees to the audio conference without dialing in.
- Performance, capacity and video quality – 50-200 participants capacity. Highest resolution video conferencing quality currently available among web conferencing providers – up to 25 streams at 640p x 480p for a maximum resolution of 1920p x 960p. Best of all, there’s no additional cost to use HDFaces.
- Overall security – Uses TLS Protocol, Version 1.2 IETF RFC 5246, Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), FIPS 197, AES Cipher suites for TLS, RSA, PKCS #1, SHA-2, FIPS PUB 180-4, HMAC-SHA-2, IETF RFC 4868, ANSI X9.62 and FIPS 140-2. GoToMeeting is configured to support MFA. It can be enabled as an account-wide setting for all agents requiring users to complete the enrollment process. Data center is in the U.S.: Nevada, Georgia, Virginia along with global data centers in the Netherlands, Germany, India, China. Global Public Cloud (including, but not limited to): California, Oregon, Virginia, Singapore, Australia, Japan.
- Price – Three variants of GoToMeeting: Professional- $12.00, Business-$16.00 and Enterprise -Contact Support team.For a business with 50 employees the monthly cost is $800.00
- Ease of use, looks and other subjective comments – Easy to use and great quality. Meeting hosts can set different levels of permissions for the participants and no need to take notes as GoToMeeting will record your meeting and transcribe it.
- Integrations – Integrates with 21 applications ranging from productivity, security and compliance including developer tools to scheduling. With add-ons capabilities, GoToMeeting can be started directly from Slack, schedules meeting Google calendar by installing the G Suite Add-on. By choosing GoToMeeting as the event location it automatically creates conference lines and saves the details to a Calendly event.
- Recording – cloud recording and Smart Meeting Assistant Take Notes. With Unlimited Cloud Recording, GoToMeeting’s Smart Assistant uses machine learning to automatically detect action items and highlights in a meeting and take notes directly within GoToMeeting.
Microsoft Teams Video Conferencing Security Evaluation
Microsoft Teams provides all of the functionality of Skype for Business, but with a better user experience. With using Microsoft Teams, you can currently only see four participants on a call simultaneously during a video session. An update coming in late April 2020 will extend this to a nine participant view,
- Ability to be administered and customized centrally – Microsoft Teams admin center allows admin, to view or update the user accounts and teams within the organization. Administrators can make changes to privacy, classification, conversation, channels settings, customize email invitation, logo and set how to handle media traffic during team calls.
- Compatibility and dial in capabilities – Criteria is met. Agents available for popular OS, web calling and toll free dial in are available. Microsoft teams allow for setting up Toll free numbers that operate within each country/region, communications credits need to be set up for an organization to use toll-free numbers with Microsoft Teams.
- Performance, capacity and video quality – Maximum limit of the number of people in a meeting 250. HD video available. Microsoft Teams also offers a specific SLA for Microsoft Teams as stated in Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Level Agreement for Microsoft Online Services document
- Overall security – Microsoft Teams video conferencing data is encrypted in transit and at rest (but details about end-to-end encryption is very vague). Data in Teams resides in the geographic region associated with your Office 365 tenant. Multi factor authentication (MFA) is supported with any Office 365 plan that includes Microsoft Teams.
- Price – For clients with Office 365 business premium subscription $12.50 user/month with annual commitment Or $15.00 user/month with monthly commitment the Microsoft Teams app is included as part of the subscription. The monthly cost for an organization with 50 employees is $625.00 with annual commitment or $750.00 with monthly commitment.
- Ease of use, looks and other subjective comments – ease of making a new meeting and making sure that those who are required to attend are notified and the blur background feature in video conferencing is a nice feature.
- Integrations – Integrates with several apps ranging from analytics, productivity, sales, HR, and more.
- Recording – Supports recording.
Google Hangouts (Google Meet) Secure Video Conferencing Evaluation
Google Hangouts was recently rebranded, and is now known as Google Meet. As per the company, the cloud-based video-conferencing service now caters to two million new users every day. It’s a staple for Google G Suite customers as well as various enterprise and corporate clients. The service can handle larger meetings with up to 250 participants per call, live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain, and can record meetings on Google Drive for later broadcast.
- Ability to be administered and customized centrally- Google Meet can be customized and Google Meet video features can be administered centrally.
- Compatibility and dial in capabilities – Criteria is met. Agents available for popular OS, web calling and toll free dial in are available.
- Performance, capacity and video quality – Up to 250 participants capacity. High-quality video and audio. A maximum resolution capacity of 720p HD. A 99.9% uptime guaranteed services are continuously available to G suite clients during upgrades and system maintenance with G Suite applications (Google meet inclusive).
- Overall security – All data in Meet is encrypted in transit by default between the client and Google for video meetings on a web browser. Meet recordings stored in Google Drive are encrypted at rest by default. Meet adheres to Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) security standards for DTLS and SRTP. Customer data is encrypted in transit and customer recordings stored in Google Drive are encrypted at rest by default. Support multiple 2 Step Verification (2SV) options for Meet. Google has numerous data centers scattered around the world. At least 12 significant Google data center installations are located in the United States (HQ in California, US). G suite applications require users to verify their identity through something they know (such as a password) plus something they have (access code delivered to a device).
- Price – Free upgrade for G suite users until the end of September. Basic-$6.00, Business-$12.00, Enterprise-$25. The monthly cost for an organization with 50 employees is $600.
- Ease of use, looks and other subjective comments – Familiar for users in G Suite and integration with G Suite apps make it easy to use. Free upgrade until September 30 makes it very appealing.
- Integrations – Google offers a range of in-built integrations for Google Meet, aside from the ones that come as standard with access to the G Suite. Businesses can access integrations to things like Slack, Zendesk, Sprint, and more, within their Google environment.
- Recording – Meetings can be recorded however no option of note taking. Google offers Google Keep for the purpose of online notes.
Amazon Chime Video Conferencing Security Comparison
Amazon Chime is the UC solution offered by Amazon Web Services. Chime offers companies the flexibility to build out their own productivity suite. You can add video conferencing, business calling, and more, and only pay for what you use. With Amazon Chime Voice Connector, you can even link your new cloud-based meeting and conferencing solution to your existing PSTN lines and PBX system.
- Ability to be administered and customized centrally – Administrators can centrally manage settings for users.
- Compatibility and dial in capabilities – Criteria is met. Agents available for popular OS, web calling and toll free dial-in available in over 80 countries and low per minute rates.
- Performance, capacity and video quality – Amazon Chime allows you to have up to 250 participants in an online meeting when not using video. For video conferences, up to 16 participants can share video desktops, and up to 8 participants on mobile. With Amazon Chime Pro – video capacity can be extended to 100 users. Video conferencing quality – High-quality video and audio. The current max resolution for Amazon Chime is 1280 x 720. Amazon Chime will downscale based on your network quality/available bandwidth. Amazon states it makes efforts to make Amazon Chime available but offers Service Credit if it does not meet the service commitment.
- Overall security – When connected to an Amazon Chime meeting, the audio, messages, video, and content shared through screen sharing is encrypted while in transit using industry standard cryptographic protocols: TLS, DTLS, and DTLS-SRTP. Messages, voice, video, and content are encrypted using AES 256-bit encryption. Amazon Web Services supports MFA mechanisms, in addition to their regular sign-in credentials when clients access AWS websites or services. Data center is located in Virginia, AWS region (this is where all user information is stored, such as chat, contacts, calendar and meeting recordings.)
- Price – Amazon Chime is available in three editions: $2.50 per user per day (Amazon Chime Plus Edition) up to $15 per user per month (Amazon Chime Pro Edition). The cost for a mid-size team of 50 employees per month for Amazon Chime Pro is $1288.
- Ease of use, looks and other subjective comments – real time chat, screen sharing, private chat, remote desktop control,
- Integrations – Provides Calendar and scheduling integration. Integration with AWS CloudTrail for logging and monitoring. Slack workspace administrators can use the Amazon Chime console to import and invite users from their Slack workspace to an Amazon Chime team account
- Recording – Yes (record and playback ability)
BlueJeans Video Conferencing Security Comparison
Verizon is buying BlueJeans – announced on April 16, 2020. The deal is reportedly worth around $500 million.. BlueJeans is the first cloud service to connect desktops, mobile devices and room systems in one video meeting, BlueJeans makes meetings fast to join and simple to use and is a competitor to Zoom.
- Ability to be administered and customized centrally – Can be deployed using centralized management tools and offers customization capabilities.
- Compatibility and dial in capabilities – Criteria is met. Agents available for popular OS and toll free dial in are available. BlueJeans offers for a list of 40+ international dial-in numbers. It also offers “premium” (including Toll Free) international numbers.
- Performance, capacity and video quality – Up to 25 participants in any given video conference (can be extended upto 100 with ‘Extended Capacity & Large Meetings’ options). High definition sound with Dolby Voice, including background noise cancellation in video and audio meetings across multiple devices and locations.
- Overall security – BlueJeans delivers secure meetings through encryption using standards-based protocols including SIP, SRTP, TLS and H. 323. It supports two factor authentication with Single Sign On (SSO) for internal event confidentiality.
– End-to-end encrypted video conferencing for all meetings in the cloud
– Supports standards-based encryption (AES-128) that is available on most video endpoints today.
– Supports standards-based encryption (AES-128)
– Data center located in San Jose, CA; Ashburn, VA; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Singapore; Sydney, Australia.
- Price – Bluejeans Standard – $9.99 per host per month (limited recording time); Bluejeans Pro – $13.99per host per month (limited recording time); Bluejeans Enterprise – Requires contact with support team (it does support unlimited recordings)
- Ease of use, looks and other subjective comments – Provides features like, whiteboard, screen share, remote control, live preview, switch presenter, notification blocker, content management capabilities.
- Integrations – Supports calendar integration with Google Calendar, Microsoft Exchange, and Office 365.
- Recording – auto-recording capability, or can be recorded manually
Zoho Meeting Secure Video Conferencing Platform Evaluation
Zoho Meeting provides single users as well as small and large size organizations, a quick and easy way to host and conduct secure and cost-effective online meetings. Host product launches, feature demonstrations, sales presentations, lead-nurturing webinars, user education webinars, and online meetings. Rated as 8.3 vs Zoom which is rated as 8.9
- Ability to be administered and customized centrally – Offers Customization and can be administered centrally.
- Compatibility and dial in capabilities – Criteria is met. Agents available for popular OS. Web calling. Local dial-in numbers and toll- free numbers are available to purchase.
- Performance, capacity and video quality – 25-100 users per session. High efficiency web based video conferencing software – offers high quality and functional video conference.
- Overall security – All data transmitted to Zoho services are encrypted using TLS 1.2 protocols. Zoho uses certificates issued by SHA 256 (no mention about end-to end encryption). Datas centers are in India. Zoho meeting supports MFA, and utilizes its Zoho OneAuth a free multi-factor authentication app.
- Price – $8 host/month (meeting edition), $15 host/month (Webinar 25), $23 host/month (20% off with full year plans). Offers 14 days free trial, all features included.
- Ease of use, looks and other subjective comments – Can lock meeting from intrusions, in-session chat, Conduct live polls and get instant results
- Integrations – Zoho CRM, Zoho Campaigns, Zoho Projects, Zoho Bookings, Zoho Calendar, G Suite and Google Calendar
- Recording – Yes – compatible.
Secure Video Conferencing Comparison
Here are the results of our analysis based on our scoring rubric above, and what was important to our organization. We hope this can help you make the best decision for what’s right for your company.
Final Thoughts: Secure Video Conferencing
Regardless of which video conference solution you may choose to use, the controversy around Zoom’s security and privacy issues is a good reminder for all organizations to conduct a vendor risk assessment of the products and services they employ. While the productivity benefits of a solution are certainly important, security missteps and misuse of customer data can be a significant liability for companies, so it is critical to conduct due diligence of your vendors annually.