Tag Archives: privacy

How to Unblock TikTok at School or Work

TikTok is one of the most downloaded apps on Google Play and Apple’s App Store, but not everyone is feeling the love. In fact, India banned it citing national security concerns.

Granted, your teachers or business leaders are likely more concerned about your productivity, and not greater concerns such as alleged theft of user data as reported by India’s technology ministry.

TikTok is often labeled as an entertainment app for Generation Z, however this is changing. You’ll find business leaders, academics, doctors, and brands on there more than ever. Just because the platform has a fun, youthful vibe doesn’t mean you can’t learn there.

Unfortunately, managers are unlikely to acknowledge that accessing TikTok doesn’t have to be about fun and games. Generally, it’s seen as a distraction. And since it’s relatively easy for the network admin to block all access to TikTok via the company or school network, leaders are quick to take this action.

How TikTok is Blocked

Network admins can ban domain names or IP addresses associated with an app they don’t want you to access. So, for example, an admin can block all internet traffic to https://www.tiktok.com/.

Unblock by Using Your Data Plan

The key point to remember is they can only prevent you from using TikTok with their network. Therefore, a simple workaround is to turn off Wi-Fi and launch the app via your mobile data plan.

The drawback to this is of course TikTok can eat up your monthly bandwidth fairly quickly.

Using a VPN to Access TikTok

A VPN is best way to gain access to apps that have been blocked. A Virtual Private Network changes your IP address and your location. Rather than connecting to the internet directly a VPN creates a halfway point that gives you privacy features, security via encryption, etc.

Some high-end routers have VPN capabilities, however since your looking to use TikTok at school or work, the solution you’ll need is a VPN service.

You can read about the best VPNs here. If you’re short on time, the providers we recommend most often here at LetMeBy are below:

Wrapping It Up

There’s so much more to TikTok than dancing teens, pranks, and lip synching to trending hip hop tunes. It’s becoming more educational, and it’s a resource that may prove useful at school or work. Also, it provides a big opportunity for marketers looking to reach young people.

Until educators or your boss catch on that it’s more than a time-wasting app, you’re going to have to bend the rules a bit. And the best way to do that is to use a VPN, but only when you really need to.

Concerned About Zoom’s Privacy Woes? Here’s Your Alternatives

The coronavirus crisis has forced businesses and institutions to forever change how they operate.

Due to social distancing measures video conferencing apps got a popularity boost. Zoom in particular is extremely hot. It even reached #1 as the most downloaded mobile app worldwide.

Despite Zoom’s overnight success, experts have been warning users that it might not be the best choice for every situation.

In short there’s a tradeoff between ease-of-use and privacy / security.

Most people that aren’t tech nerds gravitate toward apps with high usability. However, if highly-confidential information is being discussed, Zoom’s convenience factor may not be worth the risk.

So, let’s have a look at the alternatives, as well as the pros and cons of each so you can make an informed decision based on your needs.

Zoom

The San Jose based company quickly become the new go-to video conferencing app when conducting all meetings online became the new normal in 2020.

Pros:

  • It’s easy to use thanks to the intuitive user interface.
  • Joining a meeting doesn’t require a software download – attendees merely have to click on a publicly shared link.

Cons:

  • Zoom has a history of glaring problems with privacy and security. Users have reported “zoom bombings,” in which hackers gain entry to chat rooms then drop foul, offensive messages.
  • It’s paid for by the number of hosts you need per account, so it can get pricy for larger teams.

Facetime

If you’ve got an iOS device, this great option is built in and ready to launch. It’s often overlooked, but this certainly isn’t because Facetime is a mediocre offering. Rather, it’s because only Apple users have it.

Pros:

  • It’s free and you can use it on any Apple device, from a Macbook Pro to an iPhone.
  • Apple is known to leverage strong encryption, making it generally more secure than other apps like Zoom.

Cons:

  • Only supports 32 users, and you can’t use links to gather the troops, making arranging a meeting less convenient.
  • Software works on Apple devices only, so you need to be aware of which type of phone everyone has when hosting.

Skype

The granddaddy among today’s best options, Skype was first released in 2003, then acquired by Microsoft in 2011.

Pros:

  • Skype is free, and since it’s been around for a long time, many already have an account, and have it installed on their devices.
  • Includes an instant messaging solution. You can leave a message for others to view immediately or at a later date.

Cons:

  • It’s not intended for big gatherings, webinars or enterprise use as a maximum 50 people can connect.

Microsoft Teams

Skype for Business is now called Microsoft Teams. It’s a robust app that enables you to host a video meeting with up to 250 people. It has features not available to Skype users like screen sharing and recording of meetings.

Pros:

  • Included in two different Office 365 plans, making it an attractive option for business users utilizing the Microsoft ecosystem.

Cons:

  • If you don’t work in a Microsoft-centric environment, you’ll miss out on great features and overall convenience.

Google Meet / Google Chat

Formerly known as Google Hangouts, anyone who has a Gmail account has the ability to start video chats. To better serve those who need either a personal or business solution, they split it into two products: Google Meet and Chat.

Pros:

  • Formerly a paid-only product for G-suite users, Google Meet now has a free tier.
  • Seamlessly integrated with Gmail, making it an attractive option if you use it frequently.

Cons:

  • Users that value privacy should be warned using this gives Google knowledge of even more of your data than it currently does.

Zoho Meeting

Those that prefer open-source software may want to check out Zoho Meeting, which allows you to host meetings and calls with up to 100 people at once.

Pros:

  • Highly accessible as users don’t need to create an account to join a meeting; they can connect via web browser, desktop software or mobile app.

Cons:

  • History of some shaky functionality, such as a subpar screen sharing experience, plus video and audio permission issues.
  • Like Microsoft, they offer an Office suite that is nicely integrated with Zoho Meeting, but not many use it.

GoTo Meeting

Like Skype, GoTo Meeting has been around for a long time: since 2004. This is a paid-only app, and they offer different plans depending on how many participants you need to support.

Pros:

  • Flexible plans available, with the ability to accommodate very large groups. The entry-level solution allows up to 150 people to connect, while the enterprise version supports 3,000.
  • Supports multiple meeting facilitators, as well as useful features such as screen-sharing and the ability to record meetings.

Cons:

  • Reports of audio issues that can arise, and the only way to solve it is to restart the app.

Wrapping It Up

Zoom is an attractive choice today as its widely used, so people are familiar with how to use it which is key.

For everyday video conferencing it’s great, however if privacy is important for a particular meeting you may want to explore other options.

Zoom is working hard address privacy and security issues. However, it’s been noted that its weak encryption is not going away any time soon.

There is certainly no shortage of Zoom alternatives, and business-users in particular may be better served by those covered.