WhatsApp has been a very popular text message service that supposedly offered privacy to its users. However, Facebook (WhatsApp’s parent company) recently announced plans to sell advertisements and to charge big companies that want to “reach their customers” through the WhatsApp service, launching major revenue streams as growth at Facebook’s main app is starting to decelerate. (See the earlier article at http://bit.ly/2M8KGSI for the details.) Now a recently discovered flaw in WhatsApp could allow hackers to modify and send fake messages in your name.
Details may be found at http://bit.ly/2M97FND.
If you are using WhatsApp, this should be a warning to switch to a better, safer text messaging app. You can find a number of such apps to choose from. The most popular one seems to be Signal, available for Android and Apple iOS devices, including the iPhone. A version is also available for desktop systems.
Security researchers have examined Signal carefully and, so far, have found no vulnerabilities. That’s not to say there won’t be any new problems found in the future but, as of today, Signal probably is the best private messaging app to use. Signal is a demonstrated leader in secure text messaging, voice conversations, and in 2-way video conversations. I use it frequently for all three capabilities: text communications, crystal-clear encrypted phone calls, and very good 2-way video conversations. All three modes are encrypted to protect your privacy. Even the employees who produce Signal cannot see what you are sending and receiving.
With Signal, you can make crystal-clear voice and video calls to people who live across town, or across the ocean, with no long-distance charges. Last year, I used Signal while walking down a street in New Zealand to call back home to the U.S. It was nice to have safe, untapped phone calls and video calls with no toll charges! I was on a cellular connection but it also works well on wi-fi connections.
Signal is available FREE of charge.
You can learn more in an earlier article in this web site at http://bit.ly/2KEgU2E and at the Signal home page at https://signal.org/.
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Categories: Online Privacy & Security
I think I’ve asked this question before, but can you call mobile/land line phone numbers on Signal or is it strictly app-to-app? We’re pretty desperate to find a replacement for Skype before MS improves it to death. We use it to keep in touch with our non-computer/non-mobile relatives in the US. Forgive me if this is a repeat question.
—> can you call mobile/land line phone numbers on Signal or is it strictly app-to-app?
Signal is only app-to-app. It is designed for security and privacy, using encryption to block anyone else from wiretapping your voice, text, or video calls. Unfortunately, normal telephones don’t have the capability to encrypt calls and are easily monitored by hackers, telephone companies, and government agents alike.
For you, I might recommend using two products: a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) app to talk to people who only have normal telephones and then use Signal for cell phone and Windows desktop users who have the Signal app installed on their systems. There are dozens of VoIP apps available but most of them do not offer any privacy or encryption. In other words, they are just like normal telephones.
Thanks Dick. My phone conversations are the essence of mundane, mostly to my elderly sister. I’ll find a VOIP app. I just got a new laptop and have noticed my Skype performance is greatly improved so perhaps I judge MS too harshly. I will get a VOIP app as a back up, though.
WhatsApp is ubiquitous where I live but I refuse to use it because they rummaged through my contacts within five minutes of my downloading it. Off it went. People entrust me with their contact info. It is not mine to give to a third party. I don’t care what expectations for-profit companies have managed to install in people. It’s why I have never been on FB and never will be.
I hear a lot of people say they cannot do without either app. But I have not be inconvenienced in any way without them.
—> I’ll find a VOIP app.
You might want to see some of my earlier articles about telephones and VoIP replacements that can add some privacy to phone calls by starting at https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aprivacyblog.com+ooma&t=hi&ia=web
I like Ooma. It is not an app. Instead, it is a small box you install in your home, connect it to your internet router, and then connect any old-fashioned telephone to the Ooma box. It is a bit expensive to purchase ($100) but then has an extremely cheap monthly bill. Depending upon the taxes charged by your state or provincial government, monthly charges are usually less than $5.00 US and all calls to US and Canadian phone numbers are free of charge, even if you talk for hours. Ooma functions as a regular telephone: pick up the phone and dial it in exactly the same manner as you would any other old-fashioned telephone. A visitor to your house can use it even if they do not know it is an Ooma phone connected via the internet; no training is required.
There is one security addition with Ooma, however. If the person you are calling also uses Ooma, the conversation is encrypted. However, calls to old-fashioned telephones are not encrypted simply because old-fashioned telephones don’t have that capability. See https://www.ooma.com/blog/privacy-matters-without-encryption-its-so-easy-for-anyone-to-eavesdrop-on-your-phone-calls/ for the details.
If you live overseas, you can still use Ooma. You will have a telephone number assigned that has a U.S. or Canadian area code (your choice) and all calls to North America are free, local calls. Calls to other countries may involve a toll charge but are always much cheaper than what the telephone companies charge. When planning a trip last year, I called (from the U.S.) to New Zealand several times. Sometimes I talked for a half-hour or more. When I received the bill from Ooma, I found that none of the calls cost more than 10 cents US.
Oh my, this is just what we’ve been looking for! Thank you!