Privacy Comparison of Popular Messaging Apps
A secure messaging app is one that uses end-to-end encryption to enforce privacy. Criminals, hacks, and government officials can’t read encrypted messages unless they have the decryption key.
Threema is an open-source, completely encrypted messenger that’s based in Switzerland. It offers messaging, calls, video chats, and disappearing messages for extra privacy. It also protects metadata and deletes messages from servers once they’re delivered.
The Threema messenger has a number of impressive privacy features. For example, it does not require a phone number or email address to register and uses a random Threema ID that is unique to each user. You can also use it on a device without a SIM card. It also does not depend on a centralized server architecture, making it resistant to censorship. The app also supports a wide range of file formats and provides a desktop client.
One of the most important things to look for in a secure instant messaging app is its metadata restraint policy. Threema generates as little metadata as possible and stores all files locally on the device. This prevents unauthorized access to personal data, such as contacts and message histories. The app is also based in Switzerland, which has strict consumer data protection laws.
Signal is a privacy-focused messaging app that uses end-to-end encryption to make sure that the message only reaches the recipient. The app has earned a reputation as an industry standard, and it’s used by many journalists, activists, and grass-roots protesters. It’s also popular with cybersecurity professionals.
Signal’s co-founders are well-known cryptographers, and the app is unaffiliated with any company that collects user data. The nonprofit Signal Foundation is the app’s parent, and it’s focused on creating a method for instant communication that maintains total privacy.
The app is easy to use and has plenty of features. For example, users can edit messages up to 10 times, and text is formatted in bold, italics, and strikethrough. In addition, the app has a feature called “spoiler” formatting that obscures texts until tapped.
Wickr has a lot of security features to offer. Its logging policy is strict: only encrypted data passes through the servers. It is also password protected, with five wrong attempts to guess a password triggering an automatic erase of the app.
Unlike Signal and WhatsApp, Wickr doesn’t store user information on the cloud. It does, however, collect basic usage data from the users’ devices. This is used for performance analysis and optimization of the Service.
Despite its ad-free nature and the option for on-premise hosting, Cybernews found that Wickr lacks business features and is not suitable for organizations with strict data privacy requirements. Additionally, the app has attracted illicit activity, such as being a platform for drug dealers. The company has responded to these concerns by introducing a new app called Wickr Pro that provides additional security features.
WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption to protect users’ conversations. This means that only the intended recipients can read messages and calls, not abusive employers or hackers. It also provides a variety of features, including letting users lock one-on-one and group chats behind passwords or biometric authentication.
WhatsApp has a dedicated “Privacy Checkup” page, which lets users control their privacy settings. For example, they can choose who can add them to groups, silence unknown callers and manage their blocked contacts. They can also use the option to hide their online status and read receipts, as well as set disappearing messages.
However, it should be noted that WhatsApp shares user metadata with its parent company, Meta (formerly Facebook), which has been accused of using this data for ad targeting. The app has also been subject to a number of security vulnerabilities.
The Wire app uses end-to-end encryption for messaging, voice calls, video calls, and file sharing. It also offers features like disappearing messages, a group messaging option, and group audio/video conferencing. It is available for iOS, Android, and Windows.
The app has a fairly simple user interface and is easy to use. The left panel shows all your contacts and the bulk of the screen is taken up by the message history. It supports text, image, and audio messages, and can send files up to 1 gigabyte in size.
The company behind Wire is based in Switzerland and has a focus on privacy. However, its development work seems to be geared toward the enterprise and it is relatively difficult to find support for Wire Personal users on the website.