The recent WhatsApp privacy update in which they require users to ascent to sharing their data with Facebook has people justifiably interested in other instant messaging offerings out there. Signal is a free, simple and encrypted messaging app that has suddenly found itself in the spotlight. It’s available on all the major platforms from Android to iOS and desktop. Let’s go through the benefits of Signal.
Security and Privacy
Signal ensures that messages are encrypted so they remain private and can only be read by their intended recipients. The encryption Signal uses is open source which has allowed experts to test their assertion, poke and prod it confirming it is and stays as secure as intended. As if that was not enough to confirm Signal’s security, it is reportedly the preferred app for activists, people in the hacker community and others concerned about security. It’s worth noting that it was started by a small group of activists.
Signal’s end to end encryption means even they do not have access to the messages shared on the app. They also have a self-destruct feature for messages that users can configure. Data is a huge source of profit and therefore serves as the underlying motivator for the choices corporations make.
Signal is a not-for-profit company that does not collect users’ data at all because it has no incentive to track users for advertising purposes. It is funded by grants and private investors whose primary concern is privacy. The fact that it’s funded by grants also means it can never be sold, further protecting people’s data. It also does not log users’ IP addresses and is widely considered the most secure messaging app in existence.
Signal groups can have up to 1000 users who are on your contact list. This is intended to be more secure than other messaging apps, such as Telegram in which all a person needs to do in order to join a group is click on a link. This limitation of groups to people on your contact list enhances security.
The idea of moving from one messaging app to another is daunting largely because it requires a critical mass from your contacts to not only move but move to the same app as you. Check out this article on Business Insider on how to move WhatsApp groups to Signal.
Signal allows for both voice and video calls both of which are crystal clear. It also supports the common message types including text, pictures and documents. The only missing message types are games and general fancy stickers with encrypted stickers recently introduced. There is also the option to create and share your own sticker packs.
Like everything else, Signal has its shortcomings, not least of all the fact that it does not support two-factor authentication. However, the superiority of its robust security and privacy features outweigh the shortcomings. Plus, the fact that it is run as a not-for-profit inspires confidence in this world in which all data is harvested and monetized. I don’t know about you, but if it’s good enough for Edward Snowden, it’s good enough for me.