Just like you would use the best home security system, it is also important to ensure that the messaging applications that you are using are the most secure, too. If someone were able to get ahold of your personal messages, what would they reveal? Probably nothing you want to get out, including answers to security questions, payment details, and blackmailable information. Here are a few things to look for when deciding which messaging apps to utilize in your day-to-day life.
According to PC Magazine, there are no messaging apps that send unencrypted messages, meaning the messages are not sent in a clear text format. Encryption is an essential security feature because is scrambles the messages into an unreadable form which prevents unintended parties from reading them.
Unfortunately, not all types of encryption contain the same level of security. A common type of encryption used by Google Hangouts, Skype, and WeChat encrypt messages when they are being sent and being stored, but the company also holds the encryption key. That means that if someone were to get access to the key, they would easily be able to decode the messages. “But if the servers of these companies fall victim to a data breach, malicious actors will gain access to the keys and can also decrypt your messages. The companies that host these servers are then open to warrants from government agencies that want to investigate users’ private communications,” writes Ben Dickson from PC Magazine.
The most secure type of encryption is called end-to-end encryption. Each user has their own public and private keys that encrypt and decode the messages sent from person to person. The private keys are stored on the user’s devices which makes it more secure and less likely that a criminal will hack each person’s device for the private keys. WhatsApp, Wickr, and iMessage use end-to-end encryption as a default, while Facebook Messenger the user can enable it.
Speaking of enabling your end-to-end encryption on Facebook Messenger, you should probably do that ASAP. All you have to do is enable “Secret Conversations” on each chat.
When it comes to the security of the information that you share on the web and in the messages that you send, look at how secure the app is that you’re using. Do you want someone to be able to virtually eavesdrop on your conversation because you chose to use an app that has put their security key on their own server, or would you rather hold the security key yourself on your own device?
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