We watched with great interest last year the discussions about Facebook’s Whatsapp application’s touting end-to-end encryption. Our understanding is that data is only available to users at each end of the conversation. That said, because Facebook’s business model is selling its users’ information and communication to businesses, we’d recommend the following apps instead:
- Signal Messenger– Signal uses end-to-end encryption and the data is never accessed or stored by the company’s servers. It is open source and therefore auditable by organizations we trust, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras use it. That’s good enough for us. Available for iPhone or Android. There is a step-by-step guide to installing and getting started with Signal here. There is also a Chrome plugin that allows you to use Signal from your desktop/laptop to send encrypted SMS messages from your phone, in much the same way as Pushbullet does. AND Signal allows you to make encrypted voice calls to other Signal users. Man, we love this app.
- ChatSecure– The EFF recommends The Guardian Project’s ChatSecure for secure Instant Messaging. “ChatSecure is a free and open source messaging app that features OTR encryption over XMPP. You can connect to your existing accounts on Facebook or Google, create new accounts on public XMPP servers(including viaTor), or even connect to your own server for extra security.” Hard to argue with any of that.
- Pidgin is a universal chat client for Linux, Windows, Mac. You can use it to access just about every chat protocol- AIM, Google Talk, XMPP, about a dozen others. Running it with the “OTR” (Off the Record) Plug-in allows for encrypted chat.
Telegram is a widely used (100 million users, allegedly) encrypted chat program, but it was created with their own encryption protocol. Encryption experts find this very troubling, and well, some of them are very concerned about it.