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Big Brother On Video Calls: Tools To Easily Secure Your Online Calls And Chats

Big Brother On Video Calls: Tools To Easily Secure Your Online Calls And Chats

Big Brother + Microsoft and Google: say goodbye to privacy

Working from home, flexi-time, global teams, remote teams, virtual teams…many of us use popular video-conferencing tools and chat tools for work meetings, collaboration and seeing friends and family. But are there more secure tools out there that we should be using? After the baby monitor hack story in the news (as well as the NSA and PRISM revelations) we should take our online communication habits and tools more seriously.

ICT and computer hacking is not limited to a few expert nerds. Young kids are able to hack computers and systems simply because it’s so easy. And we rarely bother to secure against such things, preferring to blame someone or something else for not doing it for us. Unless you are going to stay off the internet forever, you should read up on what encryption tools your device can have.

A brief overview of the information out there show that it is difficult to know where to begin, and that many security options are specific to a platform or a program. Listed here is a guide for the non-techie-experts who want to re-think their online security and add a few little features for peace of mind.

RedPhone (Android)

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      RedPhone by Whisper Systems is an Android app designed to encrypt your phone calls. It has not been perfected yet, but looks very promising. 3G or 4G phones perform better with VoIP, so bear that in mind if you find the quality wavering on a lower data plan. It has received a lot of positive up-votes on the Google Play store, and is free to install. It’s at least worth a try!

      Jitsi (desktop and Android)

      jitsi

        Jitsi is for secure IM and video calling. It is still under development (open-source), so occasional setbacks may occur. Unfortunately it will never be available on iPhone due to restrictions by Apple. Despite that, it is receiving huge support across the internet. In order to benefit from the security features of Jitsi the person you are communicating with must also have it installed – so tell your friends!

        Silent Circle Desktop (Windows desktop)

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          Silent Circle provides a complete secure package for all your communications – Silent Circle Desktop (formerly Silent Eyes) is its video security service for individuals or businesses. At $69.95 a year it is a great option if you don’t want to handle the frustrations that sometimes come with open-source or beta-level products. They recently had to shut down their encrypted email services due to government pressure – they were unwilling to hand over their user’s emails. I like them just for that.

          Gruveo (desktop)

          Gruveo

            This is an interesting new product on the market. An awesome feature is that it doesn’t require a download. What you do is agree on a unique number with the person you want to call in advance (so please make it at least 4 digits long), go to the landing page, type in the number and wait to get connected to your counterpart. The call will take place once both parties have entered the same code.

            Zoom.us (all platforms)

            Zoom.us was developed by ex-Cisco and WebEx engineers, so you know it’s got the expertise behind it. With AES 128-bit encryption (very difficult to crack), and up to 25 meetings/people free, it is pretty nice tool to use for secure business meetings. It’s selling point is offering HD calls with large groups. You can also have private chats within the group chat with members of the call.

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            VSee (Windows, Mac desktop, tablet – smart phone apps due 2014)

            vsee

              VSee is for video chat and IM, and starting from a free package with one screen share per day and rising to $9, $49 and $299 per month for group usage. The free package is quite limited if you want it primarily for video usage so expect to pay for this one. A nice asset is that the low bandwidth makes it good to use even on a slow connection.

              Google is “secure”, right?

              Google+ hangouts, as far as my knowledge goes, are not secure (even if you choose “off the record mode”). You can’t really trust the privacy standards of Google because they make their money off of you by selling data to advertisers. The popularity of Google is because a) it’s a great service and b) it’s free. But nothing that great comes for free. You gave Google the right to your data as soon as you signed up. Some people don’t mind – but in hindsight, you may regret not taking a more secure option.

              Take the time to secure yourself!

              There are far more apps, extensions and products being created out there at the moment. AJ Dellinger wrote a fantastic in-depth article on all communications encryption options that is worth checking out if you want to learn how to secure more than just video calls.

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              Remember! Data storage as well as data transmission need to be secure in order for you to reap the full benefits of secure video calling and IM. After all, if the video call is stored in an unsecured place (like many), then what’s the point of only the live calling part being secured?!

              Happy encrypting!

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              Last Updated on December 30, 2018

              18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2019 Updated)

              18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2019 Updated)

              No one can dispute the countless benefits technology has brought us. It’s undoubtedly allowed us to connect, perform, improve and leverage our resources beyond what was once imaginable.

              If you’re not taking advantage of one of the hundreds of time management apps and tools out there, you’re definitely missing a trick.

              But with so many apps to choose from, how do you know which ones to use? Well, this will depend on your needs, but we’ve put together a list of 18 of the very best time management apps that can help you with the most common time management challenges.

              Let’s dive straight into the list…

              1. Rescue Time — Use your time wisely

                If you have doubts that you’re using your time sensibly, this app will send you weekly reports to indicate what things are stealing your time. You may be shocked to discover how much time you’re actually wasting.

                Download Rescue Time

                2. Remember The Milk — Keep on top of all your tasks

                  If you’re struggling to manage everything you have to do, and you work with many different devices, then this is the app for you. It’s a great free tool which is compatible with your mobile, computer, Gmail, Outlook, etc. It helps you to manage your tasks easily, and reminds you of them – wherever you are.

                  Download Remember the Milk

                  3. Focus Booster – Boost motivation to complete tasks

                    This app is based on the principles of the Pomodoro Technique, and is aimed at individuals who procrastinate and feel overwhelmed by tasks. It’s designed to enhance your focus and remove any anxiety you might have with time pressures.

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                    Download Focus Booster

                    4. Toggl – Keep track of time spent on projects and tasks

                      This is a great alternative to time-sheets, if you need to track how much time you spend on different projects. Effective time management starts with being clear on exactly how much time you actually spend on your projects and tasks, and then through analysis, working out how you can manage them more effectively.

                      Download Toggl

                      5. Dropbox — Store and send large files easily

                        There are many apps that allow you to transfer content from your computer to other devices – but Dropbox is free and easier to use than the others. With the Dropbox app, you can even access and share important files on the go.

                        Download Dropbox

                        6. Evernote — Keep all your notes in one place

                          Evernote is a free productivity tool that allows you to capture all your ideas, thoughts and images in many different ways (e.g., with voice, notes or images).  You can even record your meetings, interviews, speeches and ideas, create lists, add voice or text attachments, and share your files with friends. You can also sync Remember The Milk with Evernote to really optimize your time.

                          Download Evernote

                          7. Mind42 — Focus on tasks at hand with mind mapping

                            Mind mapping is a great productivity technique, and Mind42 is the best free mind mapping app currently available. It helps you to become more organized by focusing your thoughts – thereby gaining clarity on what needs to be done.

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                            Download Mind42

                            8. SyncBackFree — Back up and sync your files effortlessly

                              This free software allows you to back up, restore and synchronize your files easily. It not only saves you time now – but also in the future. If you have never backed up your files before, you should definitely take a look at this pivotal tool.

                              Download SnycBackFree

                              9. MyLifeOrganized (MLO) — Manage your to-do lists effectively

                                Check this out if you find it difficult to manage all your tasks, to work with your to-do lists, and to organize your goals. This task management system helps you to target what you should be focusing on to reach your objectives. It automatically generates to-do lists, with priority actions for your immediate attention so that you can track your progress methodically.

                                Download MyLifeOrganized (MLO)

                                10. 1Password — Have all your passwords remembered

                                  This app allows you to keep all your passwords in one encrypted database, protected by one password. This saves you time when you forget your passwords and need to retrieve them. It also allows you to use various passwords for different accounts so you don’t compromise on security.

                                  Download 1Password

                                  11. Pocket — Keep your eye on the ball

                                    When you’re surfing the web, it’s easy to get distracted by enticing and fascinating websites. Use this tool to save your ‘finds’ to access and read later on at a convenient time which will not impact on your immediate work.

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                                    Download Pocket

                                    12. [email protected] — Boost your attention span

                                      This amazing app combines neuroscience and music to boost your productivity. According to the developers, it’s possible to increase your attention span by up to 400%! Ideal for those who find it difficult to focus while studying, working or reading.

                                      Download [email protected]

                                      13. Launchy — Interact with your computer in a smart way

                                        This small and simple tool allows you to launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes. This makes life so much easier as you don’t need to go through the start menu to access what you want.

                                        Download Launchy

                                        14. Forest — Boost your focus by growing a forest

                                          This unique and fun app helps you stay focused and on-track. The concept is simple: whenever you want to focus, plant a virtual tree. If you stay focused, the tree will grow. If you lose focus, the tree will die. As the app’s name implies, you can grow multiple trees to create a virtual forest!

                                          Download Forest

                                          15. Trello — Track your projects in a highly visual way

                                            This is a hugely popular app that you may already be familiar with. It works by allowing you to create cards for tasks that you need to complete. Each card moves across the Trello board (which is typically broken into columns such as To Do, In Progress, and Completed) as your start, work on and complete the associated task.

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                                            Download Trello

                                            16. Wunderlist — Digitalize your to-do lists

                                              Purchased by Microsoft in 2015, Wunderlist is an easy to use, feature-packed to-do list app. From planning a holiday, to sharing a shopping list with a partner, or managing multiple work projects, Wunderlist will keep you on top of all your tasks.

                                              Download Wunderlist

                                              17. TimeTree — Have a shared calendar with your family

                                                This app allows families or teams to share multiple calendars and appointments. So, whether you’re planning a party, or run a local sports team, Time Tree can keep everyone up-to-date with all current and upcoming activities and events.

                                                Download Time Tree

                                                18. Todoist — Capture and order all your tasks and activities easily

                                                  Todoist is close to being the ultimate digital to-do list. It’s available via browsers and apps, and lets you schedule all your tasks and activities. Each item can be flagged for priority as well as given a due date. There is also a neat option to add notes to any of your tasks.

                                                  Download Todoist

                                                  The above list covers what we consider to be the very best time management apps and tools. And the good news is – that many of them are completely free of charge! So, what are you waiting for? Select the ones that will be the most valuable to you – and begin boosting your productivity now!

                                                  Oh, and one more thing… Take a look at a couple of our other articles that will help further streamline your time management:

                                                  40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone and 20 Quick Tips For Better Time Management

                                                  More Recommended Productivity Experts on Lifehack

                                                  • Leon Ho — The Founder and CEO of Lifehack, which he share productivity hacks to make life easier
                                                  • Carl Pullein — A renowned productivity and time management coach
                                                  • Mark Pettit — A Business Coach for ambitious entrepreneurs who want to achieve more by working less

                                                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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