Have you ever heard of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or the EFF? It’s a group dedicated to protecting digital liberties. They’ve fought against SOPA and Net Neutrality, and they have a list of companies that support online civil liberties. One thing they have is the Secure Messaging Scorecard. The EFF explains it:
The Secure Messaging Scorecard examines dozens of messaging technologies and rates each of them on a range of security best practices. Their campaign is focused on communication technologies — including chat clients, text messaging apps, email applications, and video calling technologies. These are the tools everyday users need to communicate with friends, family members, and colleagues, and we need secure solutions for them.
How Secure Are Your Communications?
This all might be of interest to you if you value your privacy. Today more than ever we are being monitored in almost everything we do. You would need to be living in a cave not to have heard about spying and unauthorized monitoring by everyone from Google and Governments to your local law enforcement representative!
The Rise of Cell Phone Spy Software
With the rise of the smartphone, mobile monitoring has been taken to a new level. Now people can install spy software apps to spy on friends, family members and business associates. Products capable of very detailed monitoring are almost mainstream now – FlexiSpy is said to have over 100,000 active users in the U.S. alone! Have a look at Reflex Software – a site dedicated to spy software products, it is frightening what can be done with a simple software download.
Secure messaging and communication is more important now than ever before.
So What Makes A Secure Messaging App, Anyway
The Secure Messaging Scorecard gives a rating to apps based on seven different factors, and we’ll list them right here:
- Can you prove who you’re messaging is real?
- Is your encryption protected from the messaging company itself, so they can’t see what you’re doing?
- If someone steals your encryption keys, are your old communications still protected?
- Can an independent reviewer look at the app’s code?
- In all stages, are your messages encrypted so that no one can possibly get them?
- Is the cryptographic implementation and designed reviewable, and is it documented?
- Has the implementation and the code been, in the last year, independently audited?
While these factors, on their own, don’t prove that an app is 100 percent secure, if an app has these features, it increases the odds of it being more secure. A good way they test this is to make sure the app has four or more of the criteria. If not, it may be unsecure.
If a Messenger is Popular, it’s Probably More Insecure
If you think that a popular messenger means that it must have the best security, you’re wrong. SnapChat, WhatsApp, Skype, iMessage, BlackBerry Messenger, and Facebook Chat do not hold the candle. In fact, the only one to have at least two of these is iMessage.
The parent companies that owns them, all except for Apple, have the power to read your messages after decryption. This means that the government can read every single message you’ve gotten, and this can put you at risk, even if you think you haven’t done anything wrong.
The Most Secure Apps You Haven’t Heard of
Silent Phone and Silent Text from Silent Circle, ChatSecure, TextSecure, RedPhone, and WhisperSystem all passed with flying colors when it comes to the EFF’s way of keeping score. These apps are the most secure.
This is a free app for Android and iOS that uses open source cryptographic libraries such as OTR, Tor, and XMPP. In other words, your messages will be private. You can send messages to other users, as well as people who use apps that have the same security measurements. It’s available in the Google Play or the iTunes store.
This one has a subscription plan, and it will cover two apps that had a full score: Silent Text and Silent Phone. You can get these for Android and iOS. Silent Phone is a more secure version of Skype, and allows for encrypted voice, conference, and video calls. What’s better is that you can send secure calls to people who don’t use the app. Silent Text, as you imagined, is a messenger app that’s a secure alternative to Facebook Chat or WhatsApp.
This is great for business people who need lots of security. It costs just $12.99 a month starting, and it allows unlimited communication between members. The different plans allow for more monthly minutes you have when it comes to calling non-members with this app. Go to their website to find out more.
WhisperSystems is like the previous one, as it comes bundled in different secure apps. It includes RedPhone and TextSecure for Android, and iOS has Signal.
So what is RedPhone? It combines with your phone’s dialer. If your partner has RedPhone on theirs, you can have an encrypted call. TextSecure is like that as well, but for your text app instead. It automatically encrypts your texts if both of you have it installed. Signal, however, does not integrate. Instead, it’s an app that’s standalone. But you can call RedPhone users using it, and TextSecure message capability is still being looked at.
These are both available in the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store. Check them out!
There are so many privacy threats that you can’t even comprehend them all. Government, hackers, and more, they’re out there. And if you think you’re doing nothing wrong, even Googling the most innocuous things can put you on a watch list. So to be the most secure, these apps are a good place to stop if you want your communications secure. You don’t have to be a mob boss to want security when you communicate. So if you want more privacy, as you deserve, give these apps a try.