List of the Best Digital Tools for Secure Remote Work

by | Mar 21, 2020 | Trends of working remotely

Within the course of a week, COVID-19 has driven most of the world to self-isolation and triggered a massive shift to remote work. With the C-19 virus spreading, more companies, SMEs and solopreneurs are faced with the unprecedented challenge of rapidly reorganising their work to protect the well-being of their staff, while remaining as operational as possible.

Changes have been abrupt, and the air is thick with uncertainty. Yet impressive communal perseverance and cooperation has allowed the public and private sector to keep functioning to the best of their abilities while adhering to official guidelines. This wave of online reorganisation equally encompasses schools, governments, local voluntary groups, sport teams, artists and conferences due to happen in the next couple of months.

The vast choice of online tools is indeed allowing us to prevent a defeated halt to daily progress and keep connected during the ongoing crisis. Fostering remote work is certainly a necessary measure to stop the spread of C-19. Nonetheless, it is also now more important than ever to pay attention to the heightened cybersecurity and privacy risk we might miss while our full attention is channelled to our physical health.

Secure Remote Work: Don’t Compromise Your Privacy for Productivity

The decision on provider selection for remote working needs to be made wisely. Many providers harvest your data to keep an eye on user behaviour and monetise the results for their gain. Unfortunately, some culprits include the tools that most gravitate towards: WhatsApp and Zoom.
 
The popular messaging app grabs mobile numbers, sources your contacts, shares user data with Facebook, harvests metadata and uses it in a massive ad ecosystem. Zoom, the go-to video conferencing tool, raises some questions with regard to workers’ privacy such as the recording and storage of meetings and the platform’s exact utilisation of users’ personal data.
 
We fully understand that is not easy to switch to a different provider. All we can do is encourage to role-model good cybersavvy behaviour and make this important step a priority. To make it easier, we have provided a list of better solutions for your consideration.

List of Secure Alternative Digital Tools

Call/video/message

  • SignalApp  – Signal has been deemed “the most secure, privacy-centric messaging app ever made” by Fast Company. The open-source, nonprofit app runs on multiple platforms, not only encrypts all messages but also hides almost all metadata and above all “no creepy tracking”.
  • ThreemaApp – Threema is another open-source messaging option, which guarantees privacy and sets itself apart with full anonymity, comprehensive encryption (from messages to media files) and its “no-nonsense privacy policy.”
  • WickrMe – Wickr has committed to the principle of privacy by design as it provides full anonymity, “military grade end-to-end encryption” and user-controlled “burn-on-read” settings for its messaging solutions.
  • Guild – Guild, “for business conversations that matter,” as they provide a sleek user experience without compromising security. The mobile and web app ensure secrecy, anonymity and ephemerality while pursuing their purpose of fostering professional passion. 

Email communication

  • ProtonMail – This Swiss-based, open-source e-mail provider ensures full end-to-end encryption, no logging of personal data and encrypted storage in secured datacenters as opposed to the cloud.
  • TutanotaTeam – Tutanota – another open-source gem – is a “zero-knowledge mailbox” providing end-to-end encryption of e-mails as well as your calendar appointments, protecting your data from third parties, including the provider themselves. 

Private search

Private search engines do not track your searches nor store your queries and they give you the freedom to control your personal data. All of this is especially important at a time when our online activity and information searching is bound to rise. A few trusted options we would encourage to explore:

Conferencing solutions

  • Whereby – Whereby provides video conferencing in the browser – no downloads & no logins for guests. Whereby is incorporated in the EEA. Here is the link to the Whereby Privacy Policy.
  • Wire Pro or Wire Enterprise – Wire is a modern-day open-source collaboration solution, promising advanced security and superior user experience. EEA-based (Switzerland). Here is the link to the Wire Privacy Policy.
  • WickrPro – WickrPro encompasses all the benefits outlined earlier and levels up to a secure collaboration space for the team. Here is the link to the WickrPro Privacy Policy.

How to keep two feet on the ground, remain calm and make informed decisions?

  • Follow the recommendations of privacy experts;
  • Before signing up to any service, always make sure to review the Terms of Services. A potential lack of transparency most likely means that they harvest your data;
  • Ensure that the provider has an updated Data Processing Agreement (DPA) – the link to the DPA should be provided in their Privacy Policy.

Stay safe – in both the physical and virtual sense of the term!

About the author:  Priya E. Abraham

Priya E. Abraham is the founder of Cyberconnecting and author of ‘Your Cyberpower. How to Safeguard Your Remote Business’. She is a coach, digital transformation strategist and privacy advisor. Priya brings 20+ years of experience in global business across industries, working with established enterprises and start-ups. In addition to holding a PhD in Business Anthropology and an MBA, she is an accredited Data Protection Officer. Priya has lived and worked in Europe, Russia, the U.S. and MENA. Her experience in all things remote is brought to life in her products and services.

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