Signal — the most secure and private messenger for everyone!

Originally Published at Bibarud.com (Bibarud Originals)

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Instant messaging should be private and secure when you share concerns about your health with your friend; that information shouldn’t be used by health insurers or big pharma to price gouge.

You at the nearest opportunity and your social graph don’t belong in the hands of political campaigners, trying to manipulate your voting decisions, but that’s exactly what’s happening when you trust companies like Facebook, apple or google, with the content and metadata of your messages to have a truly private conversation online.

Features of Signal

Security measures for messaging apps.

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Your messaging app would have to meet several requirements. Its messaging protocol has to be built so that you and your contacts are the only people who can access your conversations. This has to include their content and the metadata, while apps like iMessage and whatsapp are end-to-end encrypted.

They only protect the content. All of your metadata is exposed in plain text. The protocol and the app have to be open source. The NSA leaks’ biggest takeaway was that all proprietary software has potentially secreted backdoor for the government.

Mass surveillance, security experts cannot independently audit the code, and we have to trust the developer’s words blindly; they aren’t spying on us.

Also Read: Xiaomi’s new MI 11 is a boom for the price!!

Encryption

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Encryption in the app has to be seamless and requires no user interaction. Even the most secure app is only as secure as its weakest link, and in the tech world, that weakest link is humans. We have short attention, span bad memory, and are prone to make horrible mistakes.

That is why the most secure messenger cannot just be packed with the strongest security features. It also has to be as user-friendly as possible not to compromise their security through human error meeting.

All of these requirements has been the mission of many secure messengers. The most hopeful projects are brighter and element, and they both succeed to their extent. Still, the best security researchers in the world agree that Signal offers the strongest protection and the highest level of user-friendliness with no security compromises.

With the best end-to-end encryption protocol out there, Signal is just as easy to install and use as whatsapp. All you need is a phone, a phone number, and that’s it with Signal. You’ll never miss out on any important messaging feature.

The app supports voice and video calls, group chats files, sharing disappearing messages, voice, recording, and all of that is protected with end-to-end encryption.

Metadata

Unlike whatsapp, Signal doesn’t have access to our metadata, as it is either encrypted with a key stored on your device or completely absent from signals servers. The choice is yours.

With whatsapp, Facebook has real-time access to your social graph, which lets Facebook monitor and monetize, who you talk to, how long, what time and date, etc.

There is no other app out there that also encrypts your metadata. To this extent, apps usually only encrypt your data in transit. Still, once it’s on their servers, they can read it in plain text, so even messengers that provide end-to-end encryption like iMessage or telegram or whatsapp expose their metadata to advertisers, hackers, and government surveillance.

Privacy of Signal

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Signal never stores their messages in the cloud; even if they are encrypted, they’re only stored on your device for as long as you don’t delete them. Signal is free and open-source software. Security experts worldwide are constantly looking at its code to fix bugs and find ways to make it even more secure.

The source code of whatsapp is a proprietary secret, so you have to trust Whatsapp’s word. They aren’t spying on you or letting the NSA access your data. While Facebook owns whatsapp, Signal is non-profit, and there is no big data company behind it.

This is important because, while both Signal and whatsapp offer strong, end-to-end encryption, whatsapp shares your metadata with Facebook even if you don’t have a Facebook account.

Big tech companies have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to perpetually make them more money. Apple, Google, Facebook, or Microsoft will eventually have to find more invasive ways to monetize their platforms.

Also Read: TAILS OS: The most private and secure OS? (REAL INCOGNITO!)

Open-Source in nature

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Signal has no strings attached, and their developers live off generous donations. The only issue some people have with Signal is that it’s using a phone number to register an account. In most cases, your phone number is tied to your real-life identity, either through your location or the payment method.

You use to buy a sim card in many countries. You also have to provide a government id before obtaining a new phone number. This means that most people won’t be able to create a signal account anonymously, and advanced attackers can target a signal user through their phone number for some threat models. This makes the use of Signal unacceptable.

While it is true that a telecommunications provider or the government could monitor, who is using Signal, they would still have to dedicate a significant amount of resources to attack devices of individual users.

Signal has proven to be so secure that the only way it was possible to compromise signal chats was by exploiting a vulnerability in android or ios operating systems, rather than the signal app.

Another dimension of using a phone number to register is that if you want to add new contacts, you have to share your phone number with them and let apple and google collect your Signal contact list.

Future plans of Signal:

Currently, signal developers are working on a feature where you’ll be able to store your contacts on Signal’s servers encrypted with your pin code.

Once fully implemented, you’ll still have to register with a phone number, but you’ll be able to create a pseudonym to share with your contacts instead of your phone number. Rather than giving google and apple access into your Signal address book, the signal app will sync box all its metadata, including your contacts or app settings within itself.

Initially, this new pin feature with storing metadata in the cloud incited. Some non-violent backlash because every security expert hates cloud storage, but as long as you create a strong pin or passcode, no one will be able to access your encrypted metadata even when seized.

Saving your data in the cloud

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If you are really worried about the cloud. The backups signal allows you to disable it in the settings. As I said before, Signal has plenty of features that make the app extremely useful, but some of my most favourite ones are invisible to a general user.

For instance, Signal automatically erases all metadata from your photos. Before you send them to anyone, this includes your stored photos and the ones taken with the signals built-in camera. That way, you won’t accidentally reveal your location to your contacts.

Speaking of the camera app, you can also use it to blur faces or any areas to prevent sharing sensitive information. You can also resize your picture, draw over type text, use flash, or add these silly little stickers.

Other amazing features of Signal

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Perhaps the most amazing feature is disappearing messages with a simple tweak. You can decide how long each message will stay on your and your contacts devices once they read the message.

It will self-destruct anywhere from five seconds all the way up to one week. This feature is truly amazing because, even if someone were to get a hold of your unlocked phone, they still wouldn’t get access to your signal messages in Signal’s privacy settings.

You can further strengthen your security by toggling some settings; incognito keyboard screen security and registration lock are the top-recommended ones.

Migrate to Signal

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With the registration log, you can mitigate the threat of someone registering with your phone number to intercept your messages by locking your phone number with signals pin; when it comes to your pin code, you can either choose a digit, only pin, or a proper alphanumeric passcode.

There is no cap on how long this pin can be, so take advantage of creating a strong and memorable passphrase signal that will automatically remind you to verify your pin, but if this becomes too annoying, you can turn it off.

Just make sure you remember your pin in case you’ll want to register your account on a new install and keep all your contacts and settings; as long as you’re on the same device installation, you can always change your pin without even remembering it.

There is no excuse not to use Signal. Your conversations and social graph are invaluable, and nobody should be allowed to exploit or profit off of them to convert your friends to Signal; send them a text message straight from Signal, with a link to download it on their device.

Signal works on all android and ios devices, and it even offers a desktop version for Linux. Mac and windows. Enjoy your proud conversations.

Check out: Signal’s Official Website.

FAQ.

Is Signal better than WhatsApp messenger?

Yes, Signal is better than WhatsApp in terms of privacy and your data. As WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, Facebook can easily use your data to sell it to advertisers. And especially after the latest policy Update of WhatsApp in January 2021, it’s a no brainer to use Signal. And as Signal is Open fully opensource, there is no need to worry about your data being sold to any other company.

Signal Vs Telegram. Which one is better?

Both Signal and Telegram are open-source software. But Telegram’s encryption is not open source, while Signal is fully open source. So, Signal would be more secure, but it doesn’t mean that Telegram is bad. Telegram is very good too. But if you want full transparency, with the encryption and your data Signal will be the one to go with.

Will Signal sell my data?

No, Signal doesn’t sell users data, Signal works with donations. As Signal is Opensource everyone can see its code and find if something is fishy or not going well. So there is a very low chance that Signal would be selling your data to other companies.

Is signal safe?

Yes, Signal is very safe and keeps your data and privacy protected. Everything is encrypted and in safe hands. No advertisers or third party companies can access your data. Even Signal can’t access your data as its using 256 Bit encryption.

How to switch to Signal from WhatsApp?

To switch to signal, just download the app from the app store or google play store. You would not be able to move your data from Whatsapp to Signal. For now, there is no way to move chats and your data.

Is signal available for Pc and Mac or Linux?

Yes, Signal is available for all platforms. It is available for Android, IOS, iPad OS, Windows, Mac and even Linux. So there is no issue with compatibility.

Originally Published at Bibarud.com (Bibarud Originals)

I am a Medical Student. But I am really Interested in Technology. I like to talk about new gadgets.

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