Learning how to send encrypted messages is the new frontier in privacy. In the old days, the government used to have to have a wiretap warrant to take private information from you. Now it seems that they, and any company that feels like it, could steal information from your private conversations. Using encrypted messages can change that.
How to send encrypted messages with apps
The use of encryption in all of your digital activities is becoming essential. This is why VPNs are becoming so popular as they mask all of your metadata, specifically the websites that you visit, and change your IP address.
In a similar vein, encrypted messaging apps encrypt all of your metadata, and the specific people you are talking to and what you are saying to them. Encryption is your ally in all instances of digital communication. Let’s look at the encrypted messaging apps that will help you.
OS: Android, iOS, Blackberry
Whatsapp is easily the most popular of encrypted messaging apps. How popular? They have over 1 billion daily users. I am one of them, my brother just sent me a message on Whatsapp right as I am typing this. My brother and I are the only two people on earth who are aware of the fact that we are talking about basketball.
Whatsapp does this with default end-to-end encryption. This means that your communications, pictures, videos, and calls sent over the app are only decrypted on your phone, and the phone of the person that is receiving the message. Not even WhatsApp themselves can see it.
Possible drawbacks of WhatsApp
There is indeed a drawback to using WhatsApp, and it could be a big one: They are owned by Facebook. The two main drawbacks are:
- Whatsapp’s encryption protocol is open source, but the rest of the app is not open source. This means that security minded individuals cannot check it to verify the fact that it is secure.
- They reserve the right to collect and share message metadata, as well as contact information.
If you want to privately exchange nudes with a hottie you met last Friday, WhatsApp is fine. Those that need the highest level of encryption and privacy may want to keep reading.
OS: Android, iOS
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) November 2, 2015
All funding for Signal comes from donations and grants. There are no advertisements, no metadata logs, and they do not record any contact information. The entire goal of Signal is to record as little data as possible. Not only is this the goal of an encrypted messaging app, but it’s also cheaper…
Possible drawback of Signal
The main drawback here is the fact that not very many people use it. That hottie you met last Friday? It is not very likely that they have it.
For now, I would focus on getting your most private contacts on it, and then work on your general friends later. It simply does not have the name recognition to get everyone on it just yet.
OS: Windows phone, Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS
This is probably the second most popular encrypted messaging app with over 100 million monthly active users. Yes, it is still dwarfed by WhatsApp. It’s wide user database allows you connect to many people that you meet using encryption.
Drawbacks of Telegram
Unfortunately, Telegram is not a very good encrypted messaging app. Here are the main reasons why:
- Encryption is not turned on by default. This means that you do not know if the person receiving your message has encryption on.
- Their encryption protocol is not available to be scrutinized. No one can be 100% sure that it doesn’t have a backdoor.
- Messages are stored on unencrypted servers. This is absolutely colossally bad.
Telegram is being included on this list in an effort to steer people away from it. Many people, probably most of its 100 million users, believe that it is a 100% secure form of encrypted communication. It simply is not. I strongly urge you to consider using Signal for your most secure messaging needs, and WhatsApp for more general use.
How to send encrypted messages
There are two main things to look at here:
- Signal is clearly the superior encrypted messaging app.
- However, it’s low number of users makes it difficult to actually use.
For now, I would encourage you to at least have WhatsApp on your phone. When you come across higher levels of encryption needs, I would encourage you to switch over to Signal with these contacts.
With secure and encrypted messaging taken care of, you can now look at using secure email. It would also be very beneficial to have a mobile VPN on your phone or laptop so that you can safely use public Wi-Fi.