Safety Matters: A look at some offbeat group video calling apps that score well on privacy

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Published: April 6, 2020 12:30:03 AM

App Annie’s latest report highlights that Zoom is the most downloaded app on iOS amongst all users. But it has also put focus on privacy and security.

With researchers exposing vulnerabilities in apps like Zoom, there is a need to look beyond.

The current crises and lockdown has zoomed certain video calling apps into importance. Companies are using apps to hold press conferences and engage with employees who are locked at home. App Annie’s latest report highlights that Zoom is the most downloaded app on iOS amongst all users. But it has also put focus on privacy and security. Zoom has become the centre of attention owing to controversies. On Thursday, it was reported that some hackers gained control of the master system and zoombombed (yes, this is a term now) viewers at BARC conference in India with abusive messages. A few weeks ago, Zoom was amidst another controversy of deploying Facebook SDK and sharing data with Facebook for iOS users without specifying it in its privacy policy. With researchers exposing vulnerabilities in apps like Zoom, there is a need to look beyond. Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Hangouts offer viable alternatives, but there are some offbeat apps that score well on privacy and even support group video call features.

WickrPro

Known for its consumer version WickrMe, this is a popular platform known for privacy and security. The app has end-to-end encryption and features like disappearing messages, but once you migrate to the Pro version, it requires your email ID to log in. The free version offers enterprise grade security and a channel for up to 30 users, with 1GB file transfer. Data can be retained for 30 days. There is also a feature of screen sharing. The user interface may not be as easy, but safety features trump every other problem. For $10 per user per month, the app offers more features like 50 users, premium SaaS support, one year of data retention and advanced controls. For the platinum version there is no limit on users and unlimited data retention.

Wire Pro

Wire’s free version can support only 10 users, but the pro and enterprise versions offer much more. Wire is already known for its security benefits. Wire goes beyond Wickr as far as chat and other features are concerned. Wire Pro requires $4.34 per user and offers group messaging, HD voice and video conferencing features. It also has an enterprise version for higher level security and offers this for $8.68.

Riot.im

Although it is not known how many users Riot can support, it is one of the free apps on this platform that offers better security. It offers seamless integration with other services. So, if you are a Slack user, those chats can be integrated with Riot. More important, the user interface is easy, and Riot need not be installed on your system. It can easily be operated via web browser.

Jitsi

Jitsi may not have the security features of the above-mentioned apps, but it has better integration. The app is free to use and can support 75 people for video conferencing. Jitsi can be powered on using Slack and has an integration with the app. It may not have the best video capabilities, but it does offer free solutions.

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