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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 May 14, 2019

              8 Replacements for Google Notebook

              8 Replacements for Google Notebook

              Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

              1. Zoho Notebook
                If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
              2. Evernote
                The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
              3. Net Notes
                If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
              4. i-Lighter
                You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
              5. Clipmarks
                For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
              6. UberNote
                If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
              7. iLeonardo
                iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
              8. Zotero
                Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

              I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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              In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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