Zoom/Microsoft Teams — Major Security Concerns Comparison Report

Zoom and Microsoft Teams

Zoom’s popularity shot up due to the virus. Everyone has been thanking the team behind Zoom for this innovative and important piece of technology. The same goes for Microsoft Teams. Zoom and Microsoft Teams has allowed businesses to explore the idea of true remote work, given their features and even if life goes back to normal after the virus subsides, their usage won’t.

What Can the Statistics Tell Us?

Zoom, invariably, benefited from the spread of corona virus. Its usage spiked in March 2020, with daily meeting participants averaging between 200–250 million. It touched 300 million in April. The same happened for Microsoft Teams as well, with Microsoft attributing the usage of Teams for a 775% increase in the usage of its cloud services.

But How Do They Technically Work?

Traditional Video Calling applications utilize a form of technology known as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). What VoIP does is that it converts audio signals into digital data, which is then transmitted over the internet. This should put things into perspective as to why a strong internet connection is required when one tends to a call made online. A bad connection breaks the signals and has to do the process all over again, which also results in lags or call drops altogether.

Here is a head-to-head breakdown of the distinct features offered by both the platforms

Let’s Talk About Security First!

The terms “Privacy” and “Online Security” matter more than ever post 2018. Unless you have been living in a bubble since 2018, you would have taken steps to ensure that your data is protected. But after reading through the lines above, you might be wondering — “why is 2018 so important?” It is because 2018 marked the year when the whole Facebook-Cambridge Analytics scandal went down.

How do Zoom and MS Teams fare, Security Wise?

Now that we’ve touched upon the security issues, let’s evaluate both of them closely.

Zoom

At this point, Zoom’s security issues have been uncovered by every major outlet. The team behind Zoom or ever Microsoft teams couldn’t have fathomed a situation such as the corona virus wreaking havoc across the world. The silver lining for them was an unexpected increase in their usage, which is where the security issues are deep rooted.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams isn’t nearly perfect when it comes to security. The first concern comes in the form of Data Residency. Data that Microsoft collects via Teams is stored on the SharePoint site of every user. This data is further store in Azure, the cloud services platform owned by Microsoft. The data that is generated, irrespective of type on Teams, is converted to data that is compatible to be stored in the Azure directory. This raises concerns about how exactly Microsoft is handling user data. Also, once a user has created any form of data on Teams, migrating to any other service would be difficult since data is stored in a form that is compatible with Azure.

What Should Be Done?

For starters, users could and should practice good internet habits. Good internet habits in this context refer to being cautious about the kind of links that one opens. But it all starts with realizing that the user may not be as wary of security practices as they should be. For majority of users who are average technology literates, they tend to skip out on a lot of aspects of their own online security. They rely on the providers to protect them from attacks, which in theory, is justified. Since the teams behind Zoom and Microsoft Teams are providing a free service, with ads to these users, they need to make money as well. Once ads come into the equation, it’s not rocket science to figure out that a major portion of the user’s privacy is gone, unless they pay to get it back. But that’s when the concept of Data comes into the equation. Going back to the Facebook-Cambridge Analytics breach, Facebook had made its users aware of the fact that it earned revenue from advertisements but people felt betrayed when they realized that Cambridge Analytics had been misusing their data to sell to advertisers. Even if an independent team of developers comes up with a similar application, it will need to make money to survive. Donations would potentially not cover it and running ads becomes the only option to bring in the revenue. It’s a standard practice across internet-based media businesses but the transparency over data use is what will set them apart. Zoom and Microsoft Teams need that transparency to establish some bragging rights over their platforms in terms of security.

Here is an overview of the recommendations that should be adopted, along with the pros and cons that can potentially follow suit after adopting them

Alternative Providers

The good thing about technology is that users will always have options. No company has ever created the perfect product that a user did not complain about and that’s how the competition thrives. Don’t like Xbox? You can choose between getting a PlayStation, Nintendo, or a PC. Feel iOS is too restricted? There’s Android. If you also happen to be among the minority that does not like either? Nokia still sells the classic Nokia 3310. So, you will always have options, even if your choice qualifies as an Unpopular Opinion.

1. Google Meet

Google Meet has been in the market since 2017. It was initially launched as the enterprise sibling of Hangouts, which later ended up absorbing Hangouts itself. Google meet offers nifty features that make it worthy of checking out, especially since your life heavily revolves around google.

2. Skype

The “OG” video conferencing application that paved the way for Zoom and Teams to enter the market still remains a popular choice among many users. Skype isn’t just an ordinary service, it’s a cultural phenomenon. It made video conferencing possible at a time when it wasn’t and for the longest time, people would refer to video calling as Skype. “Let’s Skype” became the in-thing before others sprang onto the scene.

3. Cisco Webex Meetings

A popular choice among a host of Fortune 500 companies, Cisco Webex Meetings has been a mainstay in the business world. Its USP is that it is secure, with users having full autonomy over their sessions.

4. TeamViewer

TeamViewer has been a trusted end-to-use remote access software that allows users to share their screens with one another. It is extremely popular among product/support diagnosticians as it gives them the ability to diagnose issues with a user’s product from their own workspace.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a bit more knowledge about Zoom and Microsoft Teams as well as the alternatives, you would be in a better position to decide which service is actually for you. Security issues will always surround any technology that users prefer to use and being ahead of the curve will always be beneficial to them. Being technologically educated should be treated as a pre-requisite before using anything because it helps evaluate the alternatives as well as the use-case.

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Rhett Greenhagen

Rhett Greenhagen

“I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” — Winston Churchill