The good, the bad and the ugly – A comparison of the 3 most talked about messaging apps:

Signal

Security

  • End-to-end encryption (powered by open source Signal Protocol) is available on every mode of communication (messages/ video and voice calls (group or single user), photos and every other bit of content shared on Signal is E2E encrypted.
  • Signal encrypts the metadata as well as the content.
  • If you activate “Sealed Sender”, no one will be able to know who is messaging whom. (Not even Signal)
  • Signal allows users to unlock their chats with a passcode or biometrics.
  • You get support for two-factor authentication on the app.
  • A user can block screenshots on the app and the other user will be notified if done.
  • On Signal, you can blur faces automatically before sending an image.

Features

  • Messages to individuals and groups.
  • No broadcast option.
  • Voice and video calls. (group and individual) Group calls are limited to 5 users.
  • There is a disappearing destruct message option which stops your messages and content living on the recipient’s device forever. You can choose from 5 seconds to 1 week after recipient has viewed the content.
  • Signal allows you to relay voice calls to it’s servers to conceal your identity from your contacts. It also has a built in option to hide your IP address.
  • You can enable incognito keyboard while typing, delete old messages swiftly with one stroke, blur faces and private information with it’s photo editor.
  • Has a limited variety of stickers and emojis.
  • Signal now offers Light and Dark mode.

Ownership

  • Signal is owned by a non-profit organisation called Signal Foundation. It’s founders are Moxie Marlinspike (Open Whisper Systems owner) and Brian Acton (co-founder of WhatsApp, however he left 3 years after Facebook acquired it)
  • Those that endorse Signal are Elon Musk,  (Tesla and SpaceX) Edward Snowden, (American whistleblower) and Jack Dorsey (Twitter)
  • Signal has received top scores on Electronic Frontier Foundations messaging scorecard, making it the most secure messaging app.
  • It is run by donations and grants, so no private information is used for targeted marketing.

Telegram

Security

  • Telegram does offer E2E encryption however it is not enabled by default. This feature is referred to as a “secret chat”.
  • Messages sent via secret are E2E encrypted, but regular chats are client to server encrypted only. ie:
  • Message from Alyssa is encrypted to the Telegram servers.
  • Message is then encrypted from the server to Candice.
  • This means that Telegram owns the encryption keys and technically has access to all messages and media sent but work on the honour system.
  • Groups are NOT E2E encrypted as secret chats are only available for single-user communication.
  • The desktop client does not support E2E except on macOS.
  • Telegram says that it has shared 0 bytes of data with third-parties and governments to this date. (11 Jan 2021)
  • The app allows users to use a built in app lock (passcode lock only, not biometrics)

Features

  • Messages to individuals and groups or even a channel.
  • Voice and video calls. (individual ONLY with a security measure in the call option with 4 emojis on the callers screen- this needs to be the same on the other callers side for the call to be the correct person as well as secure)
  • Groups are limited to 200K members.
  • Groups features include polls, quizzes, hashtags, etc.
  • There is a self destruct message option which stops your messages and content living on the recipient’s device forever.
  • You will receive support for editing sent messages, scheduling, sharing media and themes.
  • If a user starts a secret chat and a screenshot is taken, the other user is notified of said screenshot.
  • Ability to share files, with a size limit of 1,5GB.
  • Has a large variety of stickers and emojis.
  • Telegram now offers a range of various colour modes including dark.

Ownership

  • Telegram is owned by Nikolai Durov and his younger brother, Pavel Durov. Both are currently on a self imposed exile.
  • Pavel Durov has taken a principled position against censorship and government interference.

WhatsApp

Security

  • E2E encryption (powered by open source Signal Protocol) is available on every mode of communication (messages/ video and voice calls (not group calls), photos and ever other bit of content shared on WhatsApp is E2E encrypted.
  • WhatsAspp does not encrypt backups (cloud and local). They also do not encrypt the metadata which is used to carry communication between two endpoints. Metadata does not allow anyone to read your messages, it lets authorities know whom and when you messaged someone, and for how long.
  • WhatsApp allows users to unlock their chats with biometrics.
  • Lastly you get support for two-factor authentication on the app.

Features

  • Messages to individuals and groups or even broadcast to multiple contacts at the same time.
  • Voice and video calls. (group and individual) Group calls are limited to 8 users.
  • Groups are limited to 256 users.
  • WhatsApp status/ Stories
  • Ability to share files, but with limitation. Photos, videos and audio is limited to 16MB but documents have the capability of being up to 100MB.
  • Live location can be sent to other users.
  • Cloud back-up can be used through services like Google Drive or iCloud.
  • Has a large variety of stickers and emojis.
  • WhatsApp now offers Dark mode.

Ownership

  • WhatsApp is owned by Facebook Incorporated.
  • The new privacy policy has caused quite a stir for the company, however this is not the first time that the business has had a privacy concern. There have been multiple allegations around Facebook Incorporated breaking encryption or creating back doors for government agencies.
  • Ads will soon become a reality on WhatsApp due to the incentive to monetize your data.
  • Due to WhatsApp not encrypting your metadata, it allows Facebook to easily track your behaviour.
  • If you require more content around Facebook’s usage on your data, research the Cambridge Analytica scandal or watch: The Great Hack on Netflix.

Keep informed

Social media is an amazing piece of technology and the Cyber Angels SA and Cyberlinx Team never want to chase you from using an application but we feel that you need to be kept well informed to make your decisions based on fact rather than what is being said through the media. Now it is time to make your decision – to stay or not to stay on WhatsApp?

Source: beebom.com | Slashgear.com | Business Insider | RB personal app research
Written by: Robyn Bartlett