The three main frontrunners in the video conferencing arms race are Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet. You’d be forgiven for thinking “they’re all the same, right?” This is broadly true, and they share a lot of the same core functionality, but they differ around security.
The shared functionalities of the three are group video, recording, screen sharing, instant messaging and screen control.
This is comfortably enough for most businesses to translate a lot of their in-person meetings online. The price of each is similar, all coming in at under £15 per month. Where they start to vary however is their approach to security.
This is perhaps where an ‘arms race’ has started between the three. Since headlines hit of people ‘Zoom bombing’ calls and other vulnerabilities within Zooms calls, all three have strengthened their systems’ security. All use end-to-end encryption and all use a form of cloud storage. All are security compliant for education (GDPR, HIPAA, COPPA, FERPA).
Zoom is the least accredited and externally verified, but this is largely due to its sudden success. Microsoft Teams and Google Meet are much more established and therefore more tried and tested. In fact, Microsoft have invested $1 billion into security of their Office suite, which includes Teams.
Due to the fact Google and Microsoft are more diverse software companies, another area the three differ is the availability of software support.
There is always a tension between security and usability. For instance, a thousand-character password would be more secure, but totally unusable. With these video technologies we have a similar tension. Zoom has been more widely adopted and has become familiar with the population, but Microsoft Teams and Google Meet are more secure. The features in Zoom are more engaging and accessible than those in the others.
From a security perspective we would recommend using a mixed approach. We’re using Teams internally for confidential meetings and data transfer and using Zoom for external communications and public meetings.
Consider the purpose of your video conference or meeting. Would it be an issue if it was made public? If so, use Microsoft Teams or Google Meet. However, if you’re looking to engage a wide range of people in a public event, Zoom would be a better option. Beware though, assume anything you say or do on Zoom could be made public.
If you enjoyed this briefing paper, check out our other digital resources which cover a wide range of topics, including quantum computing, social media, and 3D printing.
The Lancashire Cyber Foundry runs a series of business strategy and cyber workshops specifically designed for SMEs in Lancashire. We’re passionate about seeing Lancashire business become more cyber-aware and innovative and so offer funded places for companies to come and learn how to defend, innovate and grow their business. Additionally, we have an experienced technical team ready to help you with your business innovation ideas, particularly around cyber and digital innovation.
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Before starting at Lancaster University over four years ago, Geraint had worked in software development roles in IBM and the Civil Service. In addition to being a qualified teacher, Geraint has worked freelance with a varied client base as a software developer and graphic designer.
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