End User Info about Online Conferencing - Audio, Video, Desktop

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Info for end users as to which Online Conferencing options to use, particularly for meetings including confidential topics.

Conferencing (aka "online meetings") are those online activities with others including:-
  • Audio conferences (usually via computer connection)
  • Video conferences (talking head or entire room)
  • Desktop conferencing (including:- sharing a desktop to make a presentation, carry out training, end-user support)

By default we would suggest that XRNL volunteers use BigBlueButton which can be launched directly from Mattermost.

See advice on Online meeting Security

Page owned by Tech Circle.

Security Considerations

In March, April 2020 Corona Virus crisis many conferencing options started to be used, and the additional scrutiny they received pointed out a number of security and privacy issues.
  • Privacy issues: Various particularly wrt Zoom, where the Zoom organisation was found to have been sharing details of conference participant with Facebook.
  • Security issues: More seriously there were certain architectural issues at the server used for conferencing which could lead to information leakage. The options which are hosted by XRNL do not have that leakage risk.

So:-
  • For any conference concerence at which confidential topics are discussed you MUST use one of the XR privately hosted options (BigBlueButton via Mattermost, and Jitsi at meet.organise.earth
    • In addition Signal can be used, though its capabilities are limited to person to person rather than a group.

Conferencing software comparisons

Product Hosting Security Client Software Cost
Options
Limitations
(link to wiki
for more info)
XR Hosting Commer-
cial
Laptop Mobile participant
count
duration
BigBlueButton Yes N/a Good web browser web broswer No cost No limit No limits
Jitsi Yes Yes Good only when:-
• using XR
hosted option
• NOT using mobile app
web browser DO NOT use mobile app, has security issues. Use mobile web browser on mobiles No cost No limit No limit
Zoom No Yes May not be secure. Windows app or web browser free in App store etc Free option Max xx 40 minutes
Paid for option No limit No limit
Signal No Yes Good Web app free in App store No cost Max two video No limit

Additional Feature Comparisons

ProductSorted ascending Recording of conferences Breakout rooms
BBB Yes No
Jitsi limited, only to cloud location like Dropbox No
Zoom Yes, standard Not in free product, but there in paid-for version

FAQ

  • Why does the software matter? Can't the government just get access to the video over my internet provider?
    As long as your connection is encrypted only you and the recipient can see what is actually trasmitted. If the other party is another user then we speak about end-to-end encryption. In this case your internet provider can only see that you are communicating and with whome but not what is actually said. In video conferences this is not entirely practical. A big conferencing tool might require you to send a video signal to a lot of people. Most private internet connections are not able to carry that much bandwith. That is why your computer usually just sends his video signal to a server, which then forwards it to all participants. If the government wants to access the video stream they have to access this server. This is why it is important that we only discuss things that should stay private on servers that belong to XR and not to an external provider like Zoom.

Other Information

Other Services

These services also available, but not recommended for confidential meetings

Topic revision: r7 - 19 Jan 2021, JohnITDH
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