Cross-Platform Encrypted Messaging with Signal 2.0
Privacy and security are two increasingly important factors in today’s globalized world, and with the surge of internet spying by government agencies and third parties, wiretaps are an everyday thing that don’t just concern James Bond anymore. Encryption made its way to the semi-mainstream messaging world with the Telegram platform, but while millions flocked to it, it is still clear that convenience beats privacy for most of smartphone users. After all, with the huge user bases boasted by Whatsapp and the like, Telegram had its own growing pains.
Open Whisper Systems wants to provide an easier solution, and with its latest Signal 2.0 app for the iPhone in conjunction with Android’s Redphone and TextSecure, iOS and Android users can send each other end-to-end encrypted text messages for no cost. Redphone also allows you to encrypt calls, as its name suggests.
Cross-platform secure messaging apps are usually subscription based, but this one allows both the sender and receiver of the process to exchange messages without subscribing to a monthly payment service. The application is also open source, as is Redphone and TextSecure, so it is safe to assume that if any vulnerabilities or malicious functions were baked in, an expert or enthusiast would point them out. Its encryption protocol is, consequentially, open source too and can also be adopted by other applications, so if you are a developer that might be worth looking into. These services use your regular phone number, so there’s no additional third-party account hassle to deal with.
Open Whisper Systems’ solutions are easy-to-use and feature good interfaces, so like with Telegram, any user can feel at home when using it. Open Whisper Systems also has a reputation of its own, as even the IM giant Whatsapp adopted their security solution for their platform. With these interconnected offerings, however, cross-platform encryption is easier and cheaper than ever, without downloading a Facebook app (which, despite touted encryption, obviously don’t offer the privacy you’d like).
With the increase in privacy-invasion stories from culprits like the NSA, and the periodic leaks of information by whistle blowers like Edward Snowden, these alternatives are becoming more and more valuable. While secure third-party IM and voice-calling services are often great, many of the more popular have ominous companies behind them. As apps like Skype and Whatsapp further fortify their monopolies, it might become harder for options like Open Whisper Systems’ to penetrate. But the demand for privacy is there, and it is allegedly growing; because of this, secure text messaging and phone calls could be the future standard. At least, we hope so.