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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!

              More by this author

              Andrea Francis

              Andrea loves being productive and getting things done. She shares practical tips to help people achieve what they want in life.

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              Last Updated on July 8, 2020

              10 Smart Productivity Software to Boost Work Performance

              10 Smart Productivity Software to Boost Work Performance

              Productivity is the ability to perform tasks efficiently and in a timely manner. In today’s busy and competitive business world, productivity is paramount for any business, organization or corporation.

              Productivity is more than just performing tasks successfully. It is about investing and allocating resources, so the company or business can perform to meet its core goals.

              As part of 2019, it is important to commit to new goals. When shopping around for new productivity software keep in mind the following things: cost, reliability, cross-platform compatibility, on the go, technical support, etc.

              In the subsequent sections, we will examine the most recommended productivity software in the marketplace. In addition, we will look at what makes them tick and what separates them from the rest of the pack.

              Projects and Tasks Management

              1. Monday dot com

                Monday dot com was founded to create a team management solution so people connect to workplace processes across any industry. The productivity tool is used in more than 140 countries.

                The user interface is intuitive and impressive. It makes collaboration productive and fun because of its simplicity.

                The tool is deemed to have one of the best user experiences across the mobile and online project and task management platform.

                The product includes usability, customization, admin control, group management and control, private or public control, in-group messaging and more.

                Check out the software here!

                2. Asana

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                  The mantra behind Asana’s product is to enable teams from across different organizations to work together effortlessly.

                  The software comes with lots of customizations. When you create a project as a user, you can choose between a traditional task view and the kanban-style board view. The dashboard allows you to see the progress on a project, and it includes an excellent advanced set of search tools.

                  Also, Asana’s Android and iOS apps do retain the web interface’s clean look and feel.

                  Check out the software here!

                  3. Trello

                    Trello was founded in the summer of 2010 and two years later the platform added 500,000 members. Anyone within sales, marketing, HR and operations can collaborate successfully with this product.

                    Moreover, the tool has over 100 plus integrations with Google Drive, Slack, Jira and others. The product works flawlessly across various platforms.

                    Some of the well-known features includes is speed, easy-to-use, and set up. The interface includes due dates, assignments, file storage, checklists and more.

                    Check out the software here!

                    4. Jira

                      The Jira software is flexible and heralded as the next-generation project.

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                      The software allows teams to design and adapt the software to an organization’s needs. This includes having visibility into long term goals, project roadmaps, status of work, real-time release information and more. In addition, the interface is customizable.

                      The Atlassian Cloud does not support multiple separate domains, subdomains or domain aliases in Google Apps.

                      Check out the software here!

                      5. Evernote Business

                        Evernote was founded in 2008 and reached 11 million users by 2011. The company was founded on the premise that their product should address the ever-increasing volume and speed of information.

                        The product helps bring together groups of teams because of versatility and functionality. It creates documents, collaboration on projects, store information all a single location.

                        Moreover, you can find information quickly and includes effective search capabilities and integrations with existing tools you may already use.

                        Check out the software here!

                        Communication

                        6. Slack

                          Slack was founded in 2013 and the tool is heralded as a collaboration hub. Slack is where productivity happens. When you start a new project, hire new staff, deploy a code, review a sales contract, finalize on a budget, Slack covers all of these. Some of the major highlights include highly customizable notifications and seamless integrations with other collaboration and office tools. The free version of the software comes loaded with features, but does not archive old message. So, you have to review what are the best options for your organization or business.

                          Check out the software here!

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                          7. Spike

                            Newcomer Spike makes emails more conversational by helping teams maintain productivity, communication, and collaboration. All of these are achieved from within their inbox.

                            Spike works on top of any existing email (O365, G suite, and IMAP) turning it into a real-time messenger and making your communication much more functional and efficient.

                            Spike’s features include built-in groups and channels, voice and video calls, email encryption, instant access to all your files, and much more.

                            Check out the software here!

                            Creation

                            8. Office 365

                              Microsoft’s Office 365 could not be excluded from the conversation and especially as it pertains to productivity software.

                              Of course we are all familiar with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. But there is more capabilities that come with it.

                              You have business-class email, online storage space, and teamwork solutions. These services can be accessed from just about anywhere.

                              Within this suite is Microsoft Sway, which is a presentation software and a step above PowerPoint.

                              Check out the software here!

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                              9. Grammarly

                                Grammarly helps to cut down time on editing. Professionals in several industries like law, healthcare, academia, marketing, engineering and journalism use it to provide instant feedback on the accuracy of writing in English.

                                Once you install the extension from Google Chrome, you can get corrections when you are drafting an email, using social media and other apps.

                                Grammarly is AI powered and it’s a wonderful tool to have to check spelling and grammar before a presentation.

                                Check out the software here!

                                Team Analytics

                                10. ActivTrak

                                  ActivTrak is a business intelligence tool that allows you to access team behavior analytics. In other words, it is data-driven.

                                  The pros include two-factor authentication with active directory integration. You can also automate your alerts and it has an intuitive interface with easy-to-use admin controls.

                                  Furthermore, it comes with Google sign-in, iOS app, productivity track, and more. The bottomline is the product offers employee productivity metrics along with team behavior analytics.

                                  Check out the software here!

                                  The Bottom Line

                                  Depending on the size, budget, resources, and immediate needs of your company, not all productivity software will exactly solve your problem. You will have to contact any of the providers above and probe extensively to find the right product that is made for your business.

                                  More Productivity Tools

                                  Featured photo credit: Domenico Loia via unsplash.com

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