Instant messaging has turned out to be the go-to communication channel in the current and probably next decade. As a result, developers of these apps have placed user privacy and security as their top priorities. Facebook Messenger is just the latest to join a group of apps that already offer end-to-end encryption services as the most basic security feature.
Each and every user of these platforms wants to be assured that his/her data is safe and secure. This makes them keep searching for apps that offer the best protection from prying eyes. With end-to-end encryption, it means that an app has that “protective wall” that safeguards your info from being accessed by any third party, including the developers of the app.
As pointed out, Facebook Messenger is the latest app to jump onto this encryption bandwagon. Even though the feature is not yet available for all users of the app, its application is also a little different from what many know end-to-end encryption to be. The feature is offered via what is known as Secret Conversation mode.
Here, users can enjoy the option of enabling and disabling the Secret Conversation mode. It is also possible to set the time the message will stay visible to the recipient. End-to-end encrypted messages only live on two devices – the sender’s and recipient’s phone. Since Facebook Messenger can be accessed from multiple platforms, it will not be possible to see a Secret Conversation that was held on a smartphone when using the same app on a tablet or PC.
It still remains to be seen how the more than 900 million people who use Facebook Messenger will react to this kind of approach. But still, the chat app might, later on, add full end-to-end encryption.
Just like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp is another world-popular app, boasting a user base of more than 1 billion. Owned by Facebook, this app started receiving end-to-end encryption over a year ago, but the full implementation took place this year April. Whether you are having a group chat, private chat or voice call – WhatsApp says that all of these communications are fully end-to-end encrypted. This keeps off securities, hackers and even WhatsApp themselves from getting close to your messages and conversations on the app.
Google Allo was launched at the Google I/O 2016 event, and it has yet to be made official. One of the things it surprised people with was its disabled end-to-end encryption. Just like Facebook Messenger, the new Allo has this feature disabled by default. However, enabling Incognito Mode will bring up this feature to let you chat with friends securely.
iMessage is another app that boasts end-to-end encryption. Like other apps, it is not possible for Apple to access any message that has been encrypted. However, having the messages stored in iCloud will make them available to the company developers.
Viber might not be popular in North America, but it is one of the best apps in Asia. Boasting a user base of over 600 million people, the chat app can credit some of this success to end-to-end encryption. This started with Viber v6.0 and since the app offers both messaging and calling services, this encryption works for all. The encryption is also available on the desktop version of the app.
Most, if not all of these apps, make use of Open Whisper Systems’ Signal Protocol as far as end-to-end encryption is concerned. Interestingly, there is also a chat app developed by the same company dubbed Signal. Like you’d expect, this app is one of the best to turn to if privacy is what you really need. Whether it’s photos, videos or texts – all of these are heavily encrypted.
LINE is another very popular app in Asia. The app is known for its heroics when it comes to stickers, but it also offers its more than 500 million users with end-to-end encrypted messaging services. Like Facebook Messenger and Google Allo, LINE has this encryption available via Letter Sealing. Both the sender and recipient must turn on the feature in order for the messages to be end-to-end encrypted. Otherwise, the messages will still be accessible to third parties. The app doesn’t offer this encryption services to voice calls.
Telegram is best-known for its tough end-to-end encryption protocol, however, this feature is only available through the Secret Chat mode. This is the same approach that Facebook Messenger, Google Allo, and LINE are using. If this mode is not activated, all Telegram messages are stored in Telegram servers, meaning the developers can hand them to the cops when asked to.