The cyber space and digital environment have been growing and maturing rapidly in the last decade. The tremendous boom in the cyber security, e-commerce and e-government are the biggest gamechangers in human mankind especially during the current pandemic situation in the world. The entire digital spectrum is redefining business and their strategies. Although, many activities are being digitalized there are several challenges to be faced. 

In 2020, there has been a quantum leap in use of video conferencing applications for business purposes. Video conferencing is known to boost productivity, saves time and promotes collaboration. Employees and clients situated even in remote areas can be reached out through a video conference. However, such applications are said to be risky as well. The biggest challenges faced deal with data privacy, cyber security and malware. 

The most popular and well used video conferencing apps for business purposes are, 

ZOOM

Zoom is the most popular videoconferencing software which has gained incalculable profit in 2019 and 2020. The web infrastructure of Zoom is profound as it has an easy to navigate design and pertains 2- way video and audio features. The number of participants in a videoconference/meeting plan/webinar is decided based on the account (Basic, Licensed or On-Perm) of the user. Zoom permits screensharing, recording of meeting and discussion via chat during calls. To access the meeting, participants or clients do not have to download the app and instead can access even through browser. In Zoom, the host is said to have full power to manage the meeting and be in control of the calls. 

The biggest drawback of Zoom is their lack in cyber security and data privacy. Zoom does not have E2E (end-to-end) encryption and has faced a lot of Zoombombing where hackers have entered meetings, shared confidential data publicly and even sold them on the dark net. Zoom falsely claimed that their calls are E2E encrypted. 

In India, several petitions were filed requesting the government to do a security audit of the app Zoom. In April 2020, the Home Ministry advised government officials to not use the app, and for normal users to take precautions while doing so. The petitioner said, "Transfer of data, especially governmental and judicial data outside India impacts national security and contravenes the Public Record Act, 1993, the Official Secrets Act, 1923, the Email Policy as well as Policy for usage of IT resources of government of India. Transfer of data, which inevitably takes place as a result of use of foreign based video conferencing software, might assist, directly or indirectly, an enemy or might prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of State or friendly relations with foreign States.”

On May 22, Supreme Court of India issued a notice to ban Zoom until “appropriate legislation” is passed. 

MICROSOFT TEAMS

Microsoft Teams is a hub for team collaboration where a wide range of 3rd party apps are integrated in one single app and one single interface. It is a part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite and comes with variety of editing features. Nevertheless, users need to be extremely comfortable with the tools as the Teams app has limited flexibilities. Microsoft Teams makes it easy to reach out to anyone within the organization. This increased transparency keeps everyone in the loop and aware of what is going on in the organization. Discussions on chat continues even after a video conference is over. Further, Microsoft Teams explains that it “does not use your data for anything other than providing you with the service that you have subscribed to” i.e., doesn’t have access to any of the shared content. 

Although Microsoft Teams uses the lesser secure type of encryption policy as the data is only encrypted in transit and at rest, it does has a better track record when it comes to protecting the content, shared files, data than many of its competitors, including Zoom. 

SKYPE

Skype is one of the oldest and most popular service which was acquired by Microsoft in 2011. Skype enables free online calls, messages and even internationals calls to mobile or landline at an affordable rate. One of the standout features of Skype is that it holds a Skype translator and even live subtitles. This application is encrypted by Advance Encryption Standard and Transport layer Security. 

However, calls made over PTSN (ordinary phone network) are not encrypted.  

It is important to be aware that post June 2021, Skype for Business Online Service will be discontinued by Microsoft as it believes Microsoft Teams is better suited. 

CISCO WEBEX

Cisco Webex is a leading enterprise solution in virtual communication which offers a versatile suite of options. It is the most chosen one for business purposes. The call can include a whiteboard, desktop and document sharing, applications and even a remote control option. Webex is said to maintain robust cybersecurity as it offers E2E encryption and has committed to cybersecurity compliances. It is also integrated with Microsoft Outlook and with Cisco’s other products. The disadvantage of Webex is the frequent compatibility troubles and the lag it faces due to slow and unreliable connection. To use the Webex ideally, it is necessary to make sure the bandwidth meets the minimum requirement for the platform. 

Delhi High Court uses Cisco Webex for virtual hearing. 

GOTOMEETING

GoToMeeting is a web-hosted service that deals with online meeting, desktop sharing and video conferencing. The plus point of this app is that it offers true E2E encryption, maximum confidentiality, integrity and availability. The users of the app have full control over the equipment of the participants. GotoMeeting has numerous integrations available and user friendly features. Custom leading pages can also be created for people to book meetings and seamlessly have their information sent to the host’s account. 

However, the chat option is limited and the application use required a lot of bandwidth. The lack of tech support is also reported to be a disadvantage of GotoMeeting. 

GOOGLE HANGOUTS

Google Hangouts is a communication software developed by Google that provides phone calls and HD video calls. It is also integrated with Google applications and without any doubt one of the most affordable and handy communication tools available in the market. Users can even share their Hangout in real time on their website. Presentation and screen sharing is also available for use on google Hangouts. 

Regardless, messages are encrypted in transit between device and service and once on server, Google has access to it. Also, only those with a Gmail account have access to the Google Hangouts. 

From the above mentioned applications, it is prominent that cyber security and data privacy play a major role in choosing a software for business purposes. Considering encryption as the top notch requirement, Cisco Webex and GotoMeeting are the only ones that offer E2E encryption and are hence widely chosen by organizations. Although they do have minor disadvantages, they are claimed to be very user friendly and well integrated. 

Microsoft Teams that don’t offer E2E encryption are yet popular and chosen because they possess increased transparency and numerous integrations with 3rd parties apps in one single app. They have a clear record on security and data privacy and offer a broader variety of tools for use. 

In conclusion, if the requirement is data security and privacy, Webex and GoToMeeting will be the right answer but if productions and features play a deciding aspect, Microsoft Teams makes the most sense.

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We speak the language of Technology & Internet. We understand how the law interacts with Technology & Internet. Cyber Crime Chambers is a boutique firm specializing in internet laws and digital forensic evidence.

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Karthikeyan.N

B.A., B.L., (Hons) IPDP., (London)
Pgd IPR., Pgd Cyber Law., Msc., (IT)
CCI., CFA., IPCL.,
Advocate, Madras High Court

Karthikeyan, is a renowned cyber law expert, who is also the Managing Partner of Law Office of Karthikeyan, a reputed law firm based in Chennai.

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