Which videoconferencing tool to use

  • Describe some of the issues with videoconferencing
  • Explain some drawbacks of the different video conferencing tools available
  • Identify some of the issues around security

However, one of the main criticisms with Zoom is over security.

The company has faced accusations that the service is not secure, particularly because many such meetings have a public link, which if a troll or hacker can find (by reading someone else’s email for example) then they can join the meeting. 

Hackers have used very fast computers to run through millions of combinations of ten digit numbers, until they find one that provides entry to a meeting happening at that time. Once they have gained entry, they use the “share my screen” function to share inappropriate and sometimes illegal content.

Among the changes made by Zoom to its security settings since the lockdown began are that the platform now automatically assumes a password will be required unless the host of the call ticks a box to state it is not, whereas previously it automatically assumed one was not required.

Additionally, Zoom now automatically assumes a meeting host will want to deploy the “waiting room” function, which means a participant cannot join the meeting, even if they have the code, until the host lets them.

While this function has always existed, previously the policy was to assume the client did not want it, unless they opted in. 

But the problems stretch further than that with our sister title the Financial Times reporting the company has spent the month of April scrambling to fix issues with how it collects and uses data. 

Alistair Cunningham, financial planning director at Wingate Financial Planning, says advisers can easily mitigate any security risks they see with Zoom by taking simple precautions.

He said: “There are no significant pitfalls as long as you have a reasonably decent connection, and the other party has the right software.

"The fuss about security issues has been due to people failing to take basic precautions (adding PIN, pre-authorisation and/or locking meetings after they commence).”

Mr Briaris says: "The big advantge of Zoom is that it is easier to use than Teams, easier to download and simple to join a call.

"There is undoubtedly an issue with data. They don't really say what happens to the data when the call is over, only that the data is encrypted when it is in transit.

"This is an issue to the extent that the security services in the UK have advised the government not to use Zoom for anything that is not a public event.

"In contrast, Teams data is encrypted, and has functions that mean only people on a guest list can access a call. In a way its not really right to compare Teams and Zoom, as Teams does much more than video calling."