Secure messaging: what makes Rocket.Chat a safe team collaboration platform?

Manuela Massochin
December 29, 2020
min read

Picture the following scenario: you get your usual cup of coffee, are ready to start your workday, log into your team collaboration tool on your computer. Then you are immediately greeted by your colleague who sends you a cute kitty picture with a “good morning” message. What are the chances this is a hacker sneaking into your computer and stealing your data? Well, it turns out this is something very likely to happen if you don’t have a safe workspace for secure messaging.

This actually did happen a few months ago. Discovered and reported by the security firm Cyber Ark in April this year, this vulnerability was contained in Microsoft’s collaboration platform Teams. The bug allowed hackers to send a GIF for them to gain a token and access valuable information. In a complex but effective attack, the hackers could gain access and scrape data from Microsoft Teams accounts. And all they needed was for users to see the GIF.

secure messaging

The fact is that 2020 was reported as the worst year on record in terms of security breaches and popular team collaboration tools. The Microsoft Teams breach was mentioned in a list of the the top 10 data breaches of 2020.

Not even the U.S Treasury Department data could escape from cyberattacks, as one of the largest hacks in the past five years took place last week. As reported by Reuters, the cyberattack involved Microsoft Office 365, which includes the team collaboration software Microsoft Teams. Though it’s not clear what kind of information hackers got access to, it is reported that the attackers were able to “trick” the platform authentication controls.

If security is a major topic for your business, we strongly believe this article will help you choose a secure team collaboration software that fits your needs.

Security breaches should never be an option for your business.

2020 is the year that made companies transition from physical offices to full-time remote work. This sudden change forced many leaders to choose a team collaboration tool too quickly and, if security wasn’t a critical requirement when making their decision, they risked having their businesses fail just as quickly.

Don’t get us wrong: video chats, file-sharing and instant messaging services are important, but you can't forget about data privacy and security. These team collaboration tools gather a huge amount of data and confidential information, ranging from usernames and passwords to highly sensitive business information. That makes them a very attractive target for hackers. This is why privacy-conscious organizations are demanding secure messaging apps on such urgent notice.

Read also: We’ve tried 4 different Slack alternatives and here’s our conclusion [Illustrated]

As seen in the Microsoft Team’s vulnerability report published by CyberArk, a security breach could allow hackers to access all the data from your organization’s Microsoft Teams accounts, even confidential information and passwords. They could even impersonate leaders of your company and exploit this vulnerability in order to cause financial damage and benefit your competitors.

When it comes to financial damage, IBM Security Trusteer’s mobile security research identified a group of hackers who used mobile emulators to spoof around 16,000 mobile devices and access compromised accounts this December. This enabled them to steal millions of dollars from financial institutions in Europe and the US within days.

As more and more companies shift their work model to a hybrid one, hackers have been focusing on technologies that companies depend on in order to stay connected, like team collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Mattermost and others.

Companies are more and more in need of secure messaging and team collaboration platforms that are both effective and safe. But how can you tell if the tool you’re using (or are still looking for) is suitable for highly sensitive information?

What makes Rocket.Chat safe?

There are a number of reasons why you should consider Rocket.Chat as your number one alternative when it comes to secure messaging and safe team collaborating. We’ve highlighted a few of them here:

1. Open-source code

Other team collaboration tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams are closed source. In case you’re not familiar with this term, it essentially means that their code is proprietary and nobody but the original owners of the code can actually see it and make changes. With a quick search, you’ll find out a growing number of articles about companies that are looking for a “Slack open source” alternative”, for example.

When it comes to security breaches, you are only aware of what the company decides to publicize or let you know. If you don't know what changes have been made to the code, how can you evaluate the criticality of that security breach?

secure messaging
Rocket.Chat has the most growing developers community on GitHub, who are constantly checking on the code and making it a safe workspace.

Unlike these companies, Rocket.Chat has an open-source code. This means that the platform code is available for everyone to see. This allows developers to be checking the code, looking for holes and constantly working on improving the platform so it doesn’t suffer from cyberattacks.

Working in an open-source code also means that you and your team will be able to develop features and apps according to your needs and fully control your communication workspace.

2. Compliance with data regulations

If you work with data, you must be familiar with regulations such as Data Privacy Regulations Guide (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), for example. Countries have been developing laws in order to regulate user consent and provide security for both companies and audiences. If your company does not meet these compliance requirements, it’s very likely that you will be fined and suffer penalties that will jeopardize your business.

On Rocket.Chat, you own your data and are compliant with regulations worldwide. You also can control who gets access to what information all of the time. So, if you are looking for a GDPR compliant messaging platform, Rocket.Chat is the way to go. The open source nature of the code also allows you to better understand how everything works, instead of just picturing how the engines are under the hood. Rocket.Chat is known for its safety: even established cybersecurity firms in the US have chosen it as their main secure communication tool, like onShore Security, for example. You can check out their case here.

3. Data Ownership Through Self-Hosting Deployment

Having thousands of contributors, reviewers and being an open source platform are good reasons for you to feel safe enough to use Rocket.Chat. But you can also run the platform on your own infrastructure, having an extra peace of mind that your data will be safe.

Being able to choose where to store your data is crucial nowadays. As we’ve mentioned previously in this article, you shouldn’t have to depend on other companies' servers and rely on their infrastructure and safety. With Rocket.Chat you really own your data and can be sure that no one else gets access to it.

This also means you have a whole world of possibilities and are able to fully customize the platform according to your business needs. You can, for example, set an individual privacy notice text so you let your users know what your intentions are and what kind of data you want to collect.

With Rocket.Chat’s granular permission system, it’s possible to even create and design specific roles for your team. For example, you can assign moderators of a channel and allow them to purge messages, so your teams can manage themselves the way you want them to.

4. Ongoing commitment to your safety

Besides being praised by the users in our community, Rocket.Chat has also been listed in the IAPP’s 2019 Privacy Tech Vendor Report. In case you’re not familiar with it, the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) is the largest information privacy community that is dedicated to supporting and improving the privacy profession globally.

Rocket.Chat is also committed to being transparent. You can check how the team practices security and even learn more about the ISO 27001 certification the platform has.

Ready to take control of your communication?

There is no doubt that we are entering an era where data privacy is a big deal. After all, we’re talking about companies that are fighting for user information in order to redirect their businesses’ efforts every single day.

The rise of discussions around data privacy teaches us that creating a safe workspace is more crucial than ever and no one can afford to suffer from hacker attacks. If you want secure messaging and compliance at your fingertips, shoot us an email and we’ll happily get in touch with you!

Get started with Rocket.Chat’s secure collaboration platform

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Manuela is a Demand Generation Specialist at Rocket.Chat
Manuela Massochin
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