Signal, launched in 2014 by Open Whisper System, is an open-source messaging app that allows users to send encrypted text messages and voice memos, and make video calls using the internet.
Users can also send regular text messages to non-Signal contacts, but they will not be encrypted. The encryption based messaging app has over 10 million users and unlike WhatsApp, it doesn't share your data with Facebook for ad targeting.
The app supports Linux, Mac, Windows, IOS, and Android operating systems. Its developer, the Signal Foundation, is officially tax-exempt as of February 2019.
Messages sent to a Signal user can only be decrypted by the recipient(s). This eliminates the access of a third-party data overseer to your messages.
Similarly, all stored messages on Signal are also encrypted. This way even if someone got hold of the recipient's phone, without the owner’s passcode, they cannot access the stored messages.
Being an open-source software application, Signal private messaging app has publicly released the source code. This means anyone can audit the source code.
In fact, back in 2016, security researchers ran a full and independent audit of the Signal text app and found the app to be cryptographically secure.
Unlike Whatsapp, Signal doesn’t store any information on you except your phone number, random keys, and profile information. Even your IP address is only withheld by Signal until the information is sent.
As for information sharing, like any encryption-based service, Signal private messenger can and will hand over any information that the government legally requests, but considering Signal doesn’t store much data on you, it’s the most privacy-friendly messaging app in the market.
Like most iOS and Android app users, you would think that since WhatsApp offers encrypted messaging services, all your information is privacy protected with this app.
Here’s a list of differences between the two:
Even if you were not sharing the optional information such as your contact list, WhatsApp can collect your metadata using other people’s information, i.e., via your friend who’s shared his/her contact list.
Another key concern with WhatsApp is that it backs up your data, by default. And, although, you could disable your backup, most users don’t. Hence, giving their chat history, to the Google or iCloud account, without realizing it.
Finally, as I mentioned earlier since Facebook owns WhatsApp, the data you share can be used for ad targeting. And, although you can opt-out of it, this little fact is worth noting.
If you’re looking for a private messaging app for iPhone or Android, Signal is really the best option out there. We chose to review the Signal private messaging app, for several reasons that go beyond encrypted messaging. Unlike other encryption-based messenger apps, Signal has always kept itself open-source and transparent, which means users can be sure of what information is Signal withholding. This becomes especially relevant in today’s time when data is the new oil, a billion-dollar industry that’s using user data with or without veiled consent.
It’s important to note that while there are plenty of secure messaging services, none offers a transparent ecosystem like Signal. Finally, if the current mobile apps you use aren’t meeting your expectations, head to our mobile app reviews to discover leading app solutions in the mobile industry.
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