What secure communication apps do you use?
I currently have five of such apps on my mobile phone, all on free subscription. I regularly use several of them. Some of my contacts have their own preferences about 1 particular app. Some other contacts are using and testing multiple apps for professional curiosity, like me, and we alternate apps from time to time.
Secure communication apps provide a good alternative to insecure email communication (ask Hillary Clinton about it). There is a growing list of choices amongst those apps. They are growing fast in popularity and not only with Security geeks like me. For example, leading politicians are reported to use them.
Those apps are very quick to install and easy to use. You download them from your app store. You follow a quick setup and enrolment process and you are good to go for secure communication in no time.
No privacy worries?
When installing and using secure communication apps, you may feel like entering a privileged super-private zone where you can freely and carelessly communicate with your contacts, for free.
Well, you know the saying:
“There’s no such thing as a free
All private communication apps have their own specificity, in features, in how they secure messages, in being open-source or not, etc. They however all have something in common. While the apps’ providers may not be able to know the content of the messages you exchange, being encrypted, they gather information about you, including for example:
- Your personal information on registration (email address, phone number, etc.)
- Who you communicate with and additional metadata on your communications (e.g. date & time)
- Your Address Book (everybody in your contacts list)
- And a whole raft of other data
There is some differences between the apps from a privacy point of view, the data they collect about you and what they do with that data. If you care about your privacy, you may want to understand about that before getting and using such apps.
I would recommend:
- Watch the app setup process. You may be asked to grant the app access to data such as your address book – do you really want to do that?
- Check your device privacy settings. You can always check your privacy settings at any time, especially against Contacts, Location Services, Calendars, Microphone and Camera (iPhone/iPad under Settings, Privacy).
- Remember “There’s no such thing as a free
lunchprivacy”. How confident are you that your communications are truly secure and private with such an app? How confident are you that the app may not exploit your private data, whether by design or when compromised?