Are you the only one reading your Text Messages?
Your Text Messages are not secure, and I’m not necessarily talking about the NSA and other foreign intelligence agencies who almost certainly read your messages; and they’ve been doing it for years. But anything the Government can do, an enterprising or creative user can do as well. With the appearance of consumer available hardware that can be repurposed to redirect your cellphone through an attacker controller pop-up site, its becoming more and more appropriate to secure your own communications. Luckily, since the Snowden Leaks, encryption has taken more of a leap, and encrypting your data is easier than its ever been. I’ve rounded up some of the more popular apps below that make encryption easy and effortless for the end user.
Platform: Android, iOS, Windows
Signal gets a place at the top of its list because the technology behind it is used by many other applications claiming to also encrypt users conversations. The underlying protocol is relied upon by Facebook’s WhatsApp messenger, and the upcoming Google Allo and Duo, the pair of new messenger and video/voice call apps meant to accompany Inbox. While other apps have varying implementations of the underlying protocol, Signal is a pure play of the technology. Signal is available on both Android and iOS platforms, and a new (beta) client for Windows as well. Allowing you to communicate with other Signal-using people from your Windows PC or VM.
While end-to-end encryption is only available with other Signal Users, the App can replace your default messenger application; at least on Android, so you can keep all of your communications still in one place. Signal encrypts more than text as well, allowing users to place encrypted phone calls to other Signal Users.
Get it on
- App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/signal-private-messenger/id874139669
- Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.thoughtcrime.securesms
Platform: Android, iOS
ChatSecure takes a different approach to the “closed community” version of encryption; letting you chose your back end platform. You can chose any XMPP (Jabber) based solution and send and receive encrypted conversations on those. This allows you to have the ability to chat with users using desktop clients such as Pidgin, and Adium; anything that supports Off-The-Record and XMPP.
This is nice for users whom want to be able to control the full path of their encrypted data, from Client to Server to Client. You can set up your own XMPP server and host a private encrypted network of your own, or use XMPP server information to connect up to Facebook Chat, Google Chat or many other pre-existing services. While this means setup is not as simple as other options; the extra control could resonate with specific users.
An interesting feature of ChatSecure not normally found with other encrypted services is the ability to use Tor built right in. While this article is about encryption more than Anonymity, its still a feature that can help add an extra layer of obfuscation to your conversations.
Get it on
- App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chatsecure/id464200063
- Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=info.guardianproject.otr.app.im
Platform: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows, OSX, Linux, Web App
Telegram is a full featured messaging application that is truely cross-platform. Enjoy the standard messaging features, as well as group chats (up to 5000 people at once) as well as other options unique to Telegram such as message self-destruction. Telegram is cloud based, and relies on a distributed global infrastructure to keep it safe from single-point of failure problems. Cloud based lets it sync your conversations between clients, regardless of location etc. While some may be weary of Cloud-based/controlled applications, this isn’t as big a concern for others. As has been the case with others, this is a closed ecosystem. You can also use Telegram to transfer documents through encrypted channels, as well as store your documents/media on their cloud.
Get it on
- Windows/OSX/Linux: https://desktop.telegram.org/
- iPhone App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/app/telegram-messenger/id686449807
- Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.telegram.messenger
- Windows Phone: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/apps/telegram-messenger/9wzdncrdzhs0
- Web App (HTTPS): https://web.telegram.org/#/login
There are other applications out there that offer encrypted Chat, but I did not include on this list. Things like Snapchat, WhatsApp and SilentCircle. While they may fit your needs (especially SilentCircle if you’re looking for a secured hardware device in the Blackphone as well.); one way or another they don’t fit mine. If you have others you think should be added to the list, hit up the comments below.