Every so often a tool takes off that suddenly everyone is using to communicate—one day it’s Google Hangouts, the next it’s Slack. Right now, that tool is Zoom, even though Skype and Microsoft Teams are also options for video calling. So, what is it that makes one tool especially popular? Why do people gravitate toward one communication tool over another? Tech writer Simon Pitt suggests that users gravitate towards tools that offer free versions and are intuitive and well-known. But the things that make apps so popular are the very same things that can put users’ privacy and security at risk.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, the saying goes. That’s especially true when it comes to the internet. Even when an app says it’s free, it’s not. You might not be paying with money, but you’re almost definitely paying with your data. Facebook is a prime example, harvesting data about you like your name, your birthday and your email for targeted advertising and so is Zoom, which has sent tracking data to Facebook and can use footage from your meetings for advertising purposes. Free is tempting but it’s also dangerous.

Even if you’re paying for a communication tool, it can come at the cost of your privacy. Take Slack, for example. An intuitive tool, it stores conversations to make them easy to access at any time; unfortunately, this also makes it easier for others to access it too, including Slack themselves or hackers.

We’re told over and over again by governments and companies about the various security and privacy risks that communication tools like Zoom use. Zoom comes with an FBI warning and has been banned in some school districts. Yet, we continue to use tools like these. Why? In short, it’s peer pressure. Pitt points out that nobody wants to be the buzzkill who tells everybody not to use a tool everyone’s already reliant on because of security concerns. When a tool is already part of a culture—whether personal or workforce—it’s really hard to get people to change their habits. There’s also the added issue of people not taking cybersecurity seriously enough. People’s first consideration is whether a tool is easy-to-use, rather than secure.

But despite all this (or maybe because of this) it’s incredibly important to practice good cyber hygiene. Now more than ever we are especially vulnerable to cyberattacks as we work and communicate remotely. As the world changes around us and we become more and more reliant on online communications for daily tasks, it’s especially important to make cyber hygiene a standard part of our lives. The tools we choose to use during this pandemic will shape how we approach privacy, security and communication moving forward.

The good news is that intuitive and private and secure don’t actually have to be at odds. Vaporstream is an intuitive private, secure messaging platform that makes it simple to communicate on your phone, tablet or laptop. Privacy is built into everything we do, which means you don’t have to take any extra steps to ensure your conversations are protected each step of the way. To find out more about how we can streamline and protect your communication, schedule a demo with us here.