Messaging apps and privacy

September 19, 2019

While reading about Edward Snowden, I came across his app for android devices called Haven. Haven app uses Singal app for sending data it collects and as you would expect, Signal uses end-to-end encryption. More importantly, it uses The Singal Protocol which is open source and although the app is not the market leader in terms of a number of users, it certainly tops when it comes to your security. This made me re-think about what apps are available, which apps do I uses, what data I share and what is actually available today on the market? What type of security do the apps offer to end-users and are they sharing users data?

With governments “blindly” pushing their thoughts into breaking encryption and creating backdoors for surveillance, the topic of our privacy and security gains importance in my eyes. I believe in free choice, free market and when it comes to privacy, I re-phrase my friend: “if you don’t value your privacy, you don’t deserve it”.

While researching about messaging apps that are available today, I came across a website SECURE MESSAGING APPS COMPARISON which brings a nice overview of the security aspects that might help you decide which app is right for you. The methodology of rating is also documented there. Wikipedia lists even more apps to compare if you wish to look further, but I am satisfied with this list for now.

As you can see in this report, WhatsApp is definitely the number one app in terms of users base. However, its connection with Facebook (that really does not have a good history when dealing with users’ private data), plus the fact that it collects user data and is closed sourced makes me want to run away. Telegram had its own boom too with the heavy marketing of end-to-end encryption (and ICO projects), but it too collects user data and worse it stores the data with decryption keys on servers. This to allow easy restore as Pavel Durov argues, but with its custom-built encryption as another weakness, I moving away from it.

Singal seems to top the list. It’s open-source (both server and client) so it provides higher trust. It might not have many users yet and advanced features as other apps might offer, but if you look for the privacy of your communication, Signal might be a good choice and even Snowden suggests it ;).

Lastly, do your research and choose what suits best your own needs, everyone is different.