The pandemic saw a massive shift in the way teams work together. With remote work becoming the new normal, secure collaboration tools became crucial in helping teams collaborate seamlessly despite being spread across different cities or even different continents.
But why does the word "secure" hold the utmost importance here?
While remote work offers the flexibility of working from anywhere and using any device, it can pose a great threat to an organization's data. If left unsecured, anyone can break into your servers and steal (or misuse) confidential information that can incur huge losses—along with loss of reputation and financial repercussions.
This article will cover what secure collaboration tools are and what features you should consider for driving your remote workspace while staying compliant to data privacy regulations. Furthermore, we'll list our top 9 recommendations for a secure collaboration platform to help you select the right one.
Let's dig in!
What are secure collaboration tools?
While many organizations are moving towards a hybrid working model, maintaining the productivity, motivation, and quality of work of a remote team remains a challenge. Luckily, collaboration software exists to save teams from working in silos and get the job done effectively, despite the distance.
From planning and brainstorming to reporting and updating a task in a project, collaboration software help ensure that no communication is lost between team members and that everybody knows what the other members are working on.
And as for managers and team leaders, it saves them from the headache of going back and forth seeking updates. They can track everything within one platform and communicate with all their team members from one place.
A secure collaboration platform ensures no loose ends for attackers to sneak into your network. While team members share information with teammates, clients, and stakeholders, the platform adds layers of authentication to ensure the information reaches only the concerned person.
While secure collaboration tools are excellent for increased security and smooth team collaboration, they also allow you full control over your organization's data. Secure collaboration platforms allow on-premise deployment because of the level of security they ensure; some of them are even approved to be used by military and defense institutes as well as other government entities to safeguard their classified data.
Things to look for in a secure collaboration platform
Working with a remote team is most effective when you have the right tool in your arsenal. Here's what you should be looking for in a secure collaboration platform.
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a practical approach for teams to send sensitive information through the cloud without worrying about attackers spying on them.
How? The E2EE technology encrypts the communication sent on the server, and only the receiver can access the password-protected information.
Open source code
An open-source tool allows users to access its source code and customize it as per their needs giving them the required flexibility and agility to work on a specific problem.
Multi-factor identification is a special authentication technique where the password one enters while logging in is converted into an authorization token. This helps you navigate from one application to another without having to enter your password again and again while keeping it safe.
Data loss prevention
To make sure that unauthorized personnel do not misuse sensitive data, data loss prevention classifies data as 'controlled' and 'confidential' to help a company identify the degree of a violation based on the defined rules.
Public sector organizations prefer this feature to protect their highly confidential data, allowing you to deploy your collaboration software on-premise, i.e., your self-hosted server, instead of a cloud server.
Most secure collaboration tools in 2023
In a remote workspace, multiple factors are involved in successful team collaboration—team meetings, internal communication, file sharing, data storage, time management, and many more. To simplify it for you, we've collated our top 9 recommendations from each category that distinguishes itself in terms of security.
Rocket.Chat is an all-in-one communication platform that securely enables real-time communication between teams. It allows them to share updates on the go as it can be integrated with apps and powerful plugins to unlock a customized messaging experience.
Rocket.Chat is built to tackle security which is the primary concern for remote teams. Its security bundle allows teams to create a safe closed-sourced communication ecosystem without worrying about risky apps stealing their information anymore!
Its outstanding features like OAuth multi-factor authentication, data loss prevention, open-source antivirus plugin, E2EE, and on-premise deployment help you stay compliant and on top of the game while working remotely.
Rocket.Chat has 3 different pricing tiers based on your usage level. First, the ‘Community’ package is for small teams looking for basic collaboration features and is completely free. Then they have an ‘Enterprise’ package and add-ons for organizations looking for advanced security features such as centralized admin control, customizable user permissions, custom white-label branding, a chat engine, and many other features.
All in all, a great messaging tool to streamline your team communication!
Element is another instant messaging app that is a part of the Matrix Ecosystem. You can deploy it on-premise or on the cloud using a public server or Element Matrix Services. It's highly preferred by users already using other Matrix apps.
It uses end-to-end encryption (E2EE) and cross-signed device verification to protect messages from unauthorized access. Moreover, teams can use read receipts, reactions, file sharing, widgets, voice and video chat, customizable notifications, 1:1 messaging, group chats, and large chat rooms, among other features.
All the core Element apps are open source and free to use, but of course, you would need to set up your home server or sign up for the public matrix server.
For adding extra security layers, Enterprise-level paid plans are available starting at $3 per user per month.
➡️ Also read : The ultimate list of 18 most secure messaging apps
Pexip is our go-to tool for virtual meetings, a.k.a video conferences, to have a more engaging experience connecting with team members.
It's perfect for large organizations, including military institutions and healthcare companies, that need to have control of their company's classified data. Moreover, it features a native integration with Rocket.Chat, allowing organizations to level up security in team collaboration, where users can consolidate and access their chat messages, video communication, and projects in a single location.
The pricing is based on a licensing structure that includes a base platform license as a starting point. Users can add add-on elements such as call capacity, interoperability capabilities, scheduling, and professional services based on their requirements. Overall, it's quite cost-effective for the services it offers.
Next on our list is a cloud storage software called Nextcloud that helps teams keep their data organized, be it documents, sheets, or company data.
What makes Nextcloud special is that it allows users to self-host the software, adding an extra layer of security for your organization. Alternatively, you can use a Nextcloud provider if you want a quicker setup.
It also has added support for LDAP/Active Directory, SSO/SAML 2.0, Kerberos, and OAuth2 allowing end-to-end encryption from both the server and client sides.
As Nextcloud is an open-source service, you may sign up and install it for free. However, you will be responsible for paying for your own storage. You choose what you pay for, which gives you much flexibility regarding your budget.
Pumble is a team chat app perfect for those looking for budget-friendly yet secure collaboration software. With screen-sharing capability, it lets you send instant messages to your team and make audio and video calls.
Not only is Pumple an excellent alternative for mainstream messaging tools such as Slack, but it's also loaded with features that enable tight security. To protect your data while it is being transferred to and from Pumble servers, it uses 256-bit SSL encryption, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosts all cloud data.
Pumble only costs $1.99 per user, which can be lowered to $1.35 per user if you want to pay annually.
Yalla is an online team management software solution that helps enterprises manage teams and their workloads like a breeze! It mainly caters to marketing teams, agencies, and creatives. A single dashboard enables businesses to manage daily task allocations and keep track of outstanding jobs.
Yalla is hosted on a Cloud VPS server with the database and file storage secured with Amazon RDS, which makes it a highly secure collaboration platform.
In the free version, there's a three-user maximum, and those users can manage teams, use calendars, track time, create limitless personal tasks, and more for as long as they like!
However, in the premium tier, there's no restriction on the number of people that can be added. The cost is $12 per month or $10 per month if paid annually per user.
ExoPlatform is a versatile tool that can be used to manage project dashboards, internal communication, wiki, calendar, and a lot more.
It also lets you coordinate various tasks, including resource allocation, estimating and planning, scheduling, cost control and budget management, communication, decision-making, quality control, and documentation or administrative systems.
As eXo has teamed up with leading cloud infrastructure providers such as Google and OVH with industry-recognized security compliance labels, it's a highly secure collaboration tool to use. Moreover, their suppliers are international, which is how they meet the standards for data residency in the US, the EU, and numerous other nations.
Exo has a 3-tier pricing structure, offering affordable prices for each user level: Enterprise at $4 per user/month, Enterprise S at $5 per user/month, and quote-based pricing for the Ultimate plan.
LogMeIn is one of the best remote desktop software with many business-oriented solutions.
Since LogMeIn has been around for a while, it's safe to state that its security standards are top-notch. SST/TLS (OpenSSL) security, similar to that used in the banking industry, protects host and client communications and all back-and-forth traffic.
Moreover, it alerts you of any unusual activity, like failed login attempts making it a secure collaboration tool.
It comes with various packages, each with three pricing bundle options starting from $30 per user/month and going up to $108.5 Per user/month (billed annually). You can choose the best suitable option as per your requirements and compare the pricing on their website. Though it may not be the cheapest option, it offers a lot for IT departments that often need to manage different access levels.
Toggl is your go-to secure collaboration tool when you're looking into managing and tracking your team's time. With time entries synchronized between devices, one can start tracking time in the browser of a desktop PC and end on a smartphone.
Toggl supports some of the most advanced commercially reasonable cipher suites that encrypt all its user data in transit. Moreover, it uses proper encryption to transmit data over public networks.
The paid tiers offer a 30-day free trial, and a Basic level is accessible for up to 5 team members, with affordable pricing.
Collaborate securely with the best tools
Having secure collaboration tools is important to keep your data secure, as data theft can be detrimental to your business. Moreover, they help an organization keep up with digital trends while allowing employees to collaborate effortlessly in an online workspace!
The aforementioned tools go above and beyond to offer a secure infrastructure for its users.
Download our checklist on essential features of a secure business communication platform to streamline your team communication like a pro!