Videoconferencing, what solutions?

The covid-19 epidemic that we are experiencing has implied a rush in the  implementation of solutions to facilitate teleworking and in particular all the tools allowing videoconferences.

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The covid-19 epidemic that we are experiencing has implied a rush in the  implementation of solutions to facilitate teleworking and in particular all the tools allowing videoconferences. In this article we will review a number of these solutions, and look at the benefits and / or risks regarding the security of your data and also see if there are mature solutions compatible with my wish to regain our digital sovereignty

Known solutions on the market

Unfortunately the best known solutions and in the top of those used are American solutions, and therefore by definition risky on the management of your personal data. In first position is Zoom, which has particularly benefited from the current situation.

In the best known solutions:

  • Zoom : It is an easy-to-use solution that captivates with its ergonomics and a number of very practical features such as unlimited video streaming. (Newstrotteur), but more and more alerts are coming out on the freedoms taken on the processing of personal data and / or their lack of security (Le Guide Informatique, techsecuritenews)
  • Hangout (Google) : Again an easy tool, accessible to a wide audience, since all Google users have by default this application which is free … It is understood that the paid version of Hangout Meet (included in the G Suite offer) offers a larger range of features, the number of which depends directly on the amount of your G Suite subscription. One of the limitations remains a very strong integration with Chrome but limited portability on other browsers.
  • Skype/Teams (Microsoft) : Indeed, the Skype offer with the transition to O365 is bound to disappear outside of use for individuals. Teams the integrated solution that is gradually replacing Skype is more than a simple videoconferencing solution, it is close to a “complete” collaborative solution. The ramp-up linked to containment policies due to the covid-19 pandemic undermined the stability of the platform over the first week (ginjfo).
  • Webex (Cisco) : It is a historic player, if not the oldest videoconferencing system founded in 1195, then bought by Cisco® en 2007. (Zednet). This remains a correct solution, even if in terms of functionality and user experience, it remains a bit below Zoom®
  • GoToMeeting (LogMein) : a pure web solution, no application to download on the PC and also works with android® or ios® apps. An interesting solution.
  • BlueJeans Meeting (Dolby Voice) : as for GoToMeeting, this solution presents itself as pure web + apps, with background noise attenuation capacities, and a strong capacity for integration with collaborative platforms which themselves have videoconferencing solutions (Teams, G Suite, or Slack…) This is not necessarily the most attractive offer in terms of cost control…

The Risks

As you can see in this first overview, no French and European solutions come out in the analyzes of the more or less specialized press. However, that does not mean that they do not exist and that they are not real nice alternatives as we will see in the next section.

The first risk, often underestimated and yet real, is that all these solutions are American solutions and therefore subject to the Patriot Act and the Cloud Act. Indeed, apart from access to your data such as your conference recordings, the names and contact details of your collaborators or your customers and / or partners without you knowing it under the false pretext of national security, knowing that moreover the US uses the legal weapon against the foreign companies that it is for acts of supposed corruption or for the diffusion of prohibited technologies to countries under embargoes. These elements must become one of the elements necessary for the choice of your IT solutions. As we were reminded harshly of the crisis we are going through, the decisions of short terms, or “modes”, we must choose such a tool to be in the “move”, must not, or no longer direct your decisions and our sovereignty on the digital or technological solutions that we will choose will be the long-term resilience tools…

I have not discussed Chinese solutions like “Wechat” at all, where surveillance by the Chinese security services is internationally renowned!

French or European solutions:

As you can imagine, I couldn’t help but talk to you about solutions. There are two that come to mind:

  • Tixeo (ANSSI certified) : This solution, which really comes from secure videoconferencing, its defense customers reassure us about the seriousness of their motorbike “Safest Videoconferencing Solution”. In addition, the data is hosted in France and therefore we depend on European and French legislation. I could not tell you more about the qualities of this solution, as I have not yet fully tested it. But this seems to be a solution to take into account and the rates are to be studied ready, but it seems that the solution is not at the bottom of the range.
  • Wimi: I have already had the opportunity to tell you about this solution, which is more than a videoconferencing system and which plays more on the land of solutions like Teams® from Microsoft® or Slack®, the tests that I started on the free solution are really conclusive, and the handling is really intuitive. There are several offers and all of them seem reasonable when you take into account the service provided in terms of accommodation and security.

I would very much have liked to be able to present a European solution to you, but unfortunately none is yet on my radar. I will not hesitate in a future article to present such solutions to you, as soon as I have knowledge of them.

In conclusion

As the period we are living in, and in the health field, demonstrates, basing production on outsourced solutions outside France or Europe can be disastrous at least where we need it most. I am well aware that having to go to telework in a brutal and unforeseen way does not allow an exhaustive tour of the market solutions and does not always allow us to envisage a sovereign solution. It seems to me however important that very quickly, there is an evaluation of the solutions chosen partly in the haste and to rest the question of a sovereign solution, or for the most daring of solutions in Open source like Jitsi. For those who are already more advanced in their thinking about sovereign solutions, do not hesitate to share with me your experiences on the solutions that you have evaluated and / or implemented.
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