Privacy Blog

“By continuing the process of inflation, governments can confiscate secretly and unobserved an important part of the wealth of their citizens.” – John Maynard Keynes, writing about the effects of a seemingly small amount of inflation every year.

Private and Secure Messaging Alternatives

Are you a frequent user of text messaging? If so, are you also aware that most text messaging services send the messages “in the clear?” That means the messages are not encrypted in any way and can easily be monitored by the providing companies, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), governments, and malicious hackers alike. Does that make you uncomfortable?

Whatever you do, never use Facebook’s Messenger! While Facebook claims they don’t monitor Messenger, the company has lied about privacy topics numerous times in the past. Experience has shown that you cannot trust Facebook’s claims about security. After all, the company’s primary business objective is to collect as much invasive personal information about users as possible and then to sell that information to anyone who will pay for it. In addition, ISPs, governments, and malicious hackers alike can tap into Facebook’s Messenger service.

NOTE: For more information about Facebook Messenger’s (many) faults, read the Facebook Messenger Privacy: Everything You Need to Know article by Christian Cawley in the MakeUseOf web site at: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/facebook-messenger-privacy/.

Luckily, there are easy-to-implement solutions.

Signal

For one-to-one messengers, most security experts recommend Signal, a FREE app that encrypts all messages exchanged between two Signal users. Signal supports encrypted texts, encrypted group texts, as well as encrypted voice and encrypted video calls. The sender of a Signal encrypted text message can also specify a “disappearing date and time.” When that time is reached, the text message immediately disappears from the recipient’s phone or app, leaving no trace behind.

Signal is widely considered to be the most secure encrypted messaging app, with endorsements from numerous experts, including Edward Snowden and Bruce Schneier.

The FREE Signal app is available for Android, Apple iOS, Linux, macOS, and Windows. For more information, go to https://www.signal.org/.

Threema

Threema, unlike Signal, does not require a phone number to create an account, which means Threema is as close as you can get to truly anonymous messaging. The company headquarters is in Switzerland, giving its service strong legal privacy protections. Threema has also created a special plan that is optimized for businesses and is GDPR compliant.

Unfortunately, Threema costs money. Individual users can purchase Threema for 1.40 CHF (Swiss Francs) per device per month. That works out to about $1.40 US dollars or 1.25 Euros per device per month. Commercial use and group rates are also available.

Threema is available for Android, Apple iOS, Windows phone, and as a web app that should work on almost any operating system.

For more information about Threema, go to https://threema.ch/en/.

Wire

Wire is an end-to-end encrypted service that allows for group calls, which makes it more useful than (the no longer available) Google Hangouts and more secure than Slack when trying to manage team communication. Wire has been independently audited and is entirely open source, allowing you to be sure that Wire’s code is doing exactly what they say it is.

Unfortunately, Wire costs money. Individual users can purchase Wire for 6 Euros per device per month. That works out to about $6.74 US dollars per device per month. Commercial use and group rates are also available. Supported platforms include Android, Apple iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows, and web browser add-ons.

For more information about Wire, go to https://wire.com/en/.

Summation

Other secure text messaging services are also available; the above is simply a list of the more popular ones. Whatever service you choose, any of the above can be used to make sure your private communications remain exactly that: private.

Categories: Online Privacy & Security

1 reply

  1. Threema has a one-time cost of about $3 for individual users, depending on which region you buy it in. The per-month cost refers to Threema Work, Threema’s corporate solution.

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