Signal has seen millions of new users in its app over the past few months, but is it safe? We reached out to three security experts to learn more about the signal and how we treat your data.
WhatsApp took a hit in January when it asked users to agree to share their data with Facebook, who acquired the company in 2014, or lost access to their chats.
After just ten days, the signal went down as it struggled to deal with the millions of new users who signed up to the messaging app. Thankfully the outage did not last long and Signal later tweeted that it had expanded its ability to accommodate the influx of new users.
Now months have passed and although it has extended its deadline, WhatsApp still wants you to agree to its new terms. We have already seen whether WhatsApp is safe, but if you are considering jumping ship, is it a safe option? Here’s what the three security experts said…
Signal and End-to-End Encryption
Raj Samani said in Trusted Review, “Signal is an encrypted messaging app and, for many, a secure way to communicate with friends and family due to end-to-end encryption.”
But, what is end-to-end encryption?
“This means that messages sent to the app are encrypted, so that only the intended receiver’s device can read the message,” Rani explained.
“This applies to any exchange on the app via voice call. In short, it signals itself from viewing the content of third-party services and even messages, making it a popular choice for those looking for a messaging app with enhanced privacy and security. Want to use. “
According to F-Secure CISO, Erka Koivunen, end-to-end encryption actually began to gain traction when WhatsApp adopted it in 2016, despite Signal already rolling out the feature in 2014.
“WhatsApp became practically a pioneer in 2016 with the introduction of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to the general public,” Coivan said.
“Apple’s iMessage was first, and Signal had already launched, but it wasn’t until WhatsApp E2EE joined the movement to make it mainstream.”
In fact, the two apps actually share the same end-to-end encryption protocol.
“WhatsApp uses Signal’s protocol (or its derivative) for secure messaging and key management,” Koivin said. “It should be safe-enough.” The only practical difference is that users should believe, Facebook vs. Open Whisper System ”.
Signal vs other messaging
So, what are the advantages of using signal over other messaging apps like WhatsApp and what are the drawbacks?
“Signal saw an upsurge after downloading WhatsApp that it needed to share data after notable support from Facebook, its parent company and specialized users,” Samani said.
“Since Signal is not owned by a large technology group and operates as an independent nonprofit, it may be an advantage for some users to achieve greater privacy”.
Like WhatsApp, Signal is a free messaging service.
“The app is available for download and for iOS and Android as well as PCs running MacOS, Windows and Linux.”
However, this is not without its drawbacks. While Signal supports end-to-end encryption, people who do not have Signal installed will send your messages unencrypted, as they are being sent outside the app.
The app also lacks the impressive resources that WhatsApp has access through Facebook and cannot be backed up to the cloud. While this may promote privacy for users, some users rely on the cloud to backup their chats.
“Signal has always been more Clooney than WhatsApp,” Coivin said. “This indicates that Signal does not have the vast resources and UX expertise that Facebook has. Similarly, Signal’s systems almost gave up when a huge surge occurred last week to register for their service. The signal is intentionally designed not to backup in the cloud. WhatsApp message archives can be backed up in clear text to iCloud or Google Drive if the user allows.
But, WhatsApp and Signal are not the only messaging apps in the App Store.
“Telegram has channels and has the ability to share arbitrary files, even large ones”, Coivignon said, although it is important to note that Telegram’s encryption only applies to secret chats. .
Signal and your data
The biggest difference between Signal and WhatsApp is the apps that run the app.
“As a non-profit and privacy-focused app, Signal claims that it has no financial motivation to share a user’s personal information,” Samani assured. “The only claim to collect information signals is the telephone number, but even it cannot link back to your identity.”
Of course, it is not just the security of the signal that you need to worry about. Hackers can intercept your data via other means, reminds Kaspersky, David Aum’s Principal Security Researcher.
“It’s not always a question of application security. Android includes a built-in accessibility service and attackers are known to exploit the capabilities of this service to collect user data. For example, last year we introduced Stalkware Search that can use this standard function to instantly see incoming and outgoing messages from passengers. “
Emm advises users to exercise caution when it comes to protecting their mobile data. This includes downloading apps only from the official marketplace, reading user contracts, installing security solutions on your phone, never clicking suspicious links, and paying attention to permission requests for your apps.
“For example, a flashlight app does not explicitly require access to the microphone,” he said.
So, should you take your WhatsApp chat to a signal?
Samani said, “Most of the features of Signal are also available on WhatsApp, who like it according to their user offering.” “But, with Signal’s privacy stance, it is widely considered to be one of the most secure messaging apps currently available. And, while WhatsApp also features encryption and both apps use Signal’s encryption protocol , The signal is completely open source, meaning that security researchers can regularly check the platform for security vulnerabilities. “
The important part is that you do your own research before downloading any new app.
Finally, we asked if the experts would let their children download the signal
“As more and more children are connected online, these platforms have an increased risk of engaging with harmful content and inadvertently sharing personal information,” Samani warned.
“As with any technology you allow your children to use, it is important to monitor them while using devices connected to the Internet and to initiate conversations with children about potential online threats. It gives children that knowledge Will tie up with what they need to be safe online. It is also important to remember that parents also have a responsibility to ensure that their children are signing up only for services that are old enough for them and their There are enough to use.
If you are interested in preserving your data online, make sure to check our guide for the best VPNs for us. If you are in the market for a new smartphone, you can also visit our Best Phone and Best Android Phone Guide.