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So, you’re interested in secure, encrypted chat apps.You have a few different choices, but as with any chat app, what all your friends are using is important.To that end, Signal and Whats App are easily the most popular. Secure messaging apps are growing in popularity as we all come to realize how much data companies collect about us every day.Unlike phone calls, it’s much easier to imagine some giant corporate entity or government getting ahold of one of your chat transcripts and using it for nefarious means.While many apps out there that do this, including Apple’s i Message, Whats App and Signal lead the way in both popularity, platform availability, and features.Aside from messaging, both apps also include voice and video calling, though we’ll be concentrating on the text messaging capabilities of both here.Let’s break down how both work: End-to-end encryption is a term we hear a lot these days, but how it works and why it’s important for security isn’t always clear.Long ago, we sent messages in plain text, meaning that anyone could see the contents of a message if they caught it while it travelled from sender to receiver.
When done correctly, end-to-end encryption prevents a third party from viewing a conversation.
It does so by sending the key to unlock the message the receiver so only they can view it.
For a more technical breakdown of exactly how it works, (PDF).
This also means that even the provider, in this case, Whats App and Signal, cannot see the contents of a message.
So, if a third party, like a government, attempts to access those messages, they can’t see the content of that message; they’ll see a garbled bunch of characters.Both Whats App and Signal use the same exact protocols for encryption.That means you can assume your messages are safe and secure regardless of which service you use.How they store personal information and message metadata differs though. Metadata can show who you send a message to and when.