10 Secure Video Conferencing

Closed source video conferencing tools such as Zoom are not secure. In the following three articles, we explain why and how to replace Zoom with a free open source video conferencing tool called Jitsi.

10.1 Why Jitsi for Secure VIdeo Conferencing

10.2 Use Jitsi Breakout Rooms

10.3 Record your Jitsi Video Conference

10.1 Why Jitsi for Secure Video Conferencing

Jitsi is a free open source video conferencing tool that works on any computer. It does not require setting up an account or paying a monthly fee. By contrast, Zoom charges an annual fee that runs from $150 for a single user to $250 a year for a business. You can add any number of people to your Jitsi video conference and you can run your video conference for several hours for free rather than the 40 minute limit imposed by the Zoom free account.

Why Jitsi is much more secure than Zoom

But the biggest advantage of Jitsi is that it is dramatically more secure than Zoom. This is because moderators and participants do not need to download anything to use Jitsi. Just open any web browser and go to your Jitsi video conference room. By contrast, to use Zoom, you need to download a Zoom app which has a file size greater than 142 MB. If you extract this file, you see these files:


Extract the largest file and click on Properties for the two folders to see that the opt folder has 1,362 files and a total file size of 523 MB.


This means that Zoom is actually larger that the Linux operating system and about 5 times larger than a draconian Deep State program called UEFI – which itself is capable of remotely bricking any Windows or Apple computer.

To give you an idea of how large 523 MB is, the classic book called Moby Dick has 213,533 words divided over about 400 pages. The book Moby Dick has a file size of about 1 megabyte. Thus the Zoom app is the equivalent of more than 500 copies of Moby Dick or more than 200,000 pages of code! But the worst part is that nearly all of this code is hidden. It is not open source. It is not subject to an independent inspection or audit. This makes the Zoom app one of the worst pieces of malware ever written. Requiring your participants to each download this app and placing it on their computer not only places your computer at risk – but also the computers of all of your students. Thus, even if Zoom was free, you should not use it or force others to use it.

By contrast, the code for Jitsi is entirely open source and therefore subject to public audits. These audits can and do confirm that there are no hidden back doors in any Jitsi programs. Now that we know some of the benefits of Jitsi, let’s see how easy it is to use.

10.2 Use Jitsi Breakout Rooms

Breakout Rooms let you temporarily split your Jitsi meeting into smaller groups, with each group meeting in its own unique video conference room. By using Breakout Rooms, a Moderator can separate meeting participants into several small groups for more focused conversations and then bring them back into the main room at any time. Each Breakout Room is distinct and completely separate from other rooms and the main room in terms of audio and video, so there is no audio or video leak or interference between rooms.

In Jitsi, only Moderators can create Breakout Rooms. The moderator is the first person in the video conference room. The moderator can create break out rooms at any time before or during a meeting. The Moderator can either assign participants to specific rooms or have participants join rooms on their own. Currently, users can move between rooms without restriction and can go back to the main meeting room at any time.

To create your first Breakout room, start a Jitsi video conference and click on Participants icon in the bottom menu.


This opens the hidden Participants panel on the right side of the screen:


Click Add breakout room to add a room called Breakout Room 1. Click again to add Breakout Room 2:


To put participants in a breakout room, they first have to join the main meeting. But you can practice moving to and from a breakout room even if you are the only person in the video conference.

10.3 Record a Jitsi Video Conference

It is possible to use Jitsi’s internal video recorder to record a video of your Jitsi meeting and then download the video to your home computer and or Google Drive account to share with others. Unfortunately, the Jitsi Start Recording button does not appear in Firefox. You will therefore need to use some version of the Google Chrome browser, for example Chromium or Brave. With these browsers, the Start Recording button will appear just above the Live Recording button and just below Security options.

You should definitely practice making short recordings before making the real thing as there are several problems that may crop up. The first problem is that there is a time limit on how long the Jitsi Built in recorder will record. It is about 90 minutes. So if your class runs longer than that, you will need to stop the video and download it and start a new video.

The second problem is screen sharing. The recording appears to be limited to recording just the main Jitsi screen. If you try to share a different screen or switch between shared screens, the recording will turn itself off without warning.

The third problem is that the Jitsi video recorder does not offer a way to precisely control the width to height ratio of the recording. Ideally, we want the video to be a 16 wide by 9 high ratio to display on YouTube, Rumble and or other video sharing platforms.

The fourth problem is that to actually download the video, you first need to click on Stop Recording. A popup will appear where you can choose the folder in your file manager where you want to save the video. Currently, the video will only save as a WebM video. While this format can be converted to an MP4 format if needed, it is still a hassle and may result in a lower quality video or increased file size.

I am therefore not a fan of the built in Jitsi recording system because it takes your focus as a teacher away from what you are teaching and because you can not record different windows such as viewing a Writer document, then watching a YouTube video. I also do not like the extremely loud announcement that a video is being recorded which always occurs at the beginning of each recorded video.

Also I often teach courses in a two hour block so 90 minute time limit may not work. Finally, I think it is more practical to simply record an MP4 video in the first place. Both the sound quality and file size should be better. This is especially true if you want to directly upload class videos to a course YouTube channel for students and parents to review later.

I therefore recommend using an independent free open source video screen recording program called Simple Screen Recorder or SSR instead of the Jitsi built in tool. If you are using a Linux laptop, you can download Simple Screen Recorder from the Software Center. You can then set it up to record a fixed area on your laptop.