How confidential is our conversation? This question has come to the fore in recent months, driven by a flurry of news stories detailing the weakening of encrypted messenger apps at the behest of law enforcement. A concerted effort on the part of the state to backdoor messaging apps and spy on our most private conversations is something that should concern every member of the cryptocurrency community, many of whom are desperate for an invulnerable app that wont leak their secrets.
Also read: RBI to Challenge Supreme Court Verdict on Cryptocurrency
Within the crypto community, debates have been raging about the merits of popular encrypted messaging apps such as Telegram and Signal. Cloud-based platform Telegram has enjoyed tremendous success, with several hundred million downloads; its ambition is to cross the 1 billion threshold by 2022. Telegram is well known in the cryptosphere, having conducted a $1.7 billion token sale last year. However, because the platform isnt open-source, users must trust Telegram to honor its assurances that messages are secure from retention and interception.
Signal is widely viewed as an upgrade on Telegram, its policy of minimizing data retention having won rave reviews from many privacy absolutists including Edward Snowden. Unlike Telegram, the free app is open source and all messages encrypted end-to-end by default. That said, its not as feature-rich as users may like. Some people are also uncomfortable with having to use their phone number for verification, which could spawn further security risks.
Decentralized messaging platform Debrief is an interesting alternative, as it implements data storage, encryption and authentication on the blockchain. All messages are encrypted by default, and Debrief follows the same policy as Signal in terms of data retention (i.e. no stored chat logs). The platform also acts as an open-source middleware for blockchains and legacy comms tools, which can tap into its blockchain-based encryption protocols to enhance security and internal data privacy. By refraining from centralized control, we will be removing the weak link from the equation the third parties, says co-founder Jeff Pulver.
Dust (formerly known as Cyber Dust) is another blockchain-based, pro-privacy messenger app which utilizes the disappearing message feature to make sensitive data ephemeral. That said, messages self-delete after 24 hours with some users wondering whether automatic self-deletion would be preferable. Dust went live in March, 2014, meaning its a veteran in this space the fact that its still popularly used for text communication is a good sign.
In February, reports indicated that the EUs executive branch had urged staff to replace Whatsapp with Signal for all messaging needs, in a bid to enforce the security of communications. Like Whatsapp, Signal is an end-to-end encrypted messaging service, but while the former is owned by Facebook a company rightly criticized for its history of data harvesting Signal is an open-source project funded by the non-profit Signal Foundation. Pro-privacy features include the ability to send and receive view-once media, automatic metadata deletion, and the use of safety codes for each conversation. Screenshotting messages is disabled.
The European Unions executive branch determined that Whatsapp was not secure enough to handle sensitive and classified information shared between diplomats (and according to the latest update, even Signal may not be sufficiently secure). Fair enough. Yet its telling that the EU sees value in secure encryption, yet wants to retain the ability to undermine such standards when it comes to the general population.
The hypocrisy is staggering but not surprising. The National Security Council recently discussed whether to prohibit encryption without a mandatory backdoor for state access to plaintext. Members of Congress are also debating the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act, which promises to strip away Section 230 protections and open up backdoors to encryption.
Law enforcement in the U.K., U.S. and Australia, meanwhile, have urged Mark Zuckerberg to abandon his plan to introduce end-to-end encryption on all of Facebooks messaging products, while MI5s director general has urged tech companies to permit spy agencies exceptional access to encrypted communication. While this is all in the name of national security, it stinks of one rule for the government, another for the people. We are not entitled to privacy of communications in a free and democratic society, it seems.
On March 6, Matthew Green described the latest bipartisan bill pushed by U.S. senators, EARN IT, as a direct attack on end-to-end encryption, writing: Its extremely difficult to believe that this bill stems from an honest consideration of the rights of child victims, and that this legislation is anything other than a direct attack on the use of end-to-end encryption. He added:
My hope is that the Internet community and civil society will treat this proposal with the seriousness it deserves, and that well see Senators rally behind a bill that actually protects children from abuse, rather than using those issues as a cynical attempt to bring about a backdoor ban on encryption.
Against this Orwellian backdrop, the need for end-to-end encrypted messaging capabilities is obvious. This is something the crypto community well understands, as governments are especially determined to learn more about their financial affairs and transactions. And its not just governments you might wish to keep your communications safe from; its also cybercriminals, data thieves and extortionists.
Securing your communications with end-to-end encryption should be a right, not a privilege, in a digital age. Unfortunately, this quest is becoming increasingly difficult as three-letter agencies and politicians jockey to secure unprecedented access to the everyday affairs of their citizens under the guise of anti-terrorism and child protection. Theres no universal messenger that can provide a panacea to this problem, but there are applications, at least, that will minimize leakage and ensure your private conversations remain that way.
Which messaging platform do you think is most secure? Let us know in the comments section below.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not an offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation, endorsement, or sponsorship of any products, services, or companies. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
Did you know you can verify any unconfirmed Bitcoin transaction with our Bitcoin Block Explorer tool? Simply complete a Bitcoin address search to view it on the blockchain. Plus, visit our Bitcoin Charts to see whats happening in the industry.
Kai's been manipulating words for a living since 2009 and bought his first bitcoin at $12. It's long gone. He specializes in writing about darknet markets, onchain privacy, and counter-surveillance in the digital age.
- Encryption Software Market Worth $20.1 Billion by 2025 - Exclusive Report by MarketsandMarkets - Yahoo Finance - June 18th, 2020
- Zoom says free users will get end-to-end encryption after all - The Verge - June 18th, 2020
- Zoom To Offer End-To-End Encryption For Video Calls, Trials To Start In July - NDTV - June 18th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market 2020-2025: Types, Services, Cost Structure, Application, Statistics, Emerging Trends And Regional Analysis - Owned - June 18th, 2020
- Zoom to offer end-to-end encryption for all users, trial to begin in July - Reuters India - June 18th, 2020
- Cloud Encryption Market Will Generate Massive Revenue In Future- A Comprehensive Study On Key Players - Surfacing Magazine - June 18th, 2020
- Global Cloud Encryption Gateways Market Research with COVID-19 After Effects - Cole of Duty - June 18th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market 2020 By Trends, Demand, Business Opportunities, Development Factors, Applications, Overview with Competitive landscape... - June 14th, 2020
- IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON Encryption Key Management Software RESEARCH, GROWTH TRENDS AND COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS 2020-2026 - Cole of Duty - June 14th, 2020
- Move over Zoom, this encryption company just released the first fully end to end encrypted conferencing solution #105518 - New Kerala - June 14th, 2020
- Cloud Encryption Software Market to witness high growth in near future - GroundAlerts.com - June 14th, 2020
- Three secure ways to surf the internet - Gadgets Now - June 14th, 2020
- Will Zoom Bring Encryption to the People Who Need It Most? - EFF - June 13th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market Size Scope and Comprehensive Analysis by 2028 - 3rd Watch News - June 13th, 2020
- Federal-grade encryption from the comfort of home - GCN.com - June 13th, 2020
- Hardware-based Full Disk Encryption Market Growth Prospects, Revenue, Key Vendors, Growth Rate and Forecast To 2026 - Jewish Life News - June 13th, 2020
- Congress introduces EARN IT Act, which would end encryption programs but violates the Constitution - NationofChange - June 13th, 2020
- IBM kit wants to keep your data encrypted while in use - ITProPortal - June 13th, 2020
- Commercial Encryption Software Market Growth Prospects, Revenue, Key Vendors, Growth Rate and Forecast To 2026 - Jewish Life News - June 13th, 2020
- Nearly 500,000 say Congress shouldnt kill encryption with the EARN IT Act - The Daily Dot - June 13th, 2020
- COVID-19, Security and WFH: Myths and Misconceptions - Security Boulevard - June 13th, 2020
- Privacy News Online | Weekly Review: June 12th, 2020 - Privacy News Online - June 13th, 2020
- Global Optical encryption Market Insights and Forecast 2020 to 2025 - Jewish Life News - June 13th, 2020
- Hong Kong is number one in Asia for enterprise encryption, with customer personal information the top data protection priority, reports nCipher... - May 27th, 2020
- Are social giants morally obligated to break encryption? - ACS - May 27th, 2020
- Facebook plot to encrypt ALL chats will help child abusers to hide, former police chief warns - The Sun - May 27th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market To Expand At A Robust 14.27% Cagr Of 2020 | Sophos,McAfee,Check Point Software Technologies,Proofpoint,Trend Micro - 3rd... - May 27th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market Forecast Revised in a New Market Expertz Report as COVID-19 Projected to Hold a Massive Impact on Sales in 2020 | Long-term... - May 27th, 2020
- Global Homomorphic Encryption Market Analysis 2020-2025: by Key Players with Countries, Type, Application and Forecast Till 2025 - Cole of Duty - May 27th, 2020
- COVID-19 Impact ON AES Encryption Software Market: Size, Market Analysis, Application, Growth Drivers, Trends, status and Research Report by 2025 -... - May 27th, 2020
- Cloud Encryption Software Market 2020: Potential growth, attractive valuation make it is a long-term investment | Know the COVID19 Impact | Top... - May 27th, 2020
- Global Encryption Key Management Market 2020 Insights, Key Player's Competition, Trends, Sales, Revenue, Supply, Demand, Growth Analysis and Forecast... - May 27th, 2020
- Starting to look at email security. Looking for guidance - Encryption Methods and Programs - BleepingComputer - May 25th, 2020
- Global Cloud Encryption Technology Market Projected to Reach USD XX.XX billion by 2025- Gemalto, Sophos, Symantec, SkyHigh Networks, Netskope etc. -... - May 25th, 2020
- Impact of Covid-19 on Cloud Encryption Technology Market is Expected to Grow at an active CAGR by Forecast to 2025 | Top Players Gemalto, Sophos,... - May 25th, 2020
- Zoom will seek public feedback on plan for stronger encryption - The Indian Express - May 16th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market Research Report 2020 By Size, Share, Trends, Analysis and Forecast to 2026 - Cole of Duty - May 16th, 2020
- Almost half of organisations have been reported to the ICO for a potential data breach - ResponseSource - May 16th, 2020
- VPN Tunnels explained: what are they and how can they keep your internet data secure - TechRadar - May 16th, 2020
- The Week in Ransomware - May 15th 2020 - REvil targets Trump - BleepingComputer - May 16th, 2020
- WhatsApp Video Calls Will Soon Support 50: This Is Why 8s The Limit For Your Security - Forbes - May 16th, 2020
- How to Use Encryption for Defense in Depth in Native and Browser Apps - InfoQ.com - May 14th, 2020
- Analyzing Encrypted RDP Connections - Security Boulevard - May 14th, 2020
- Analysis on Impact of COVID-19-Global Cloud Encryption Software Market 2020-2024| Increasing Use of In-built Cloud Encryption Solutions to Boost... - May 14th, 2020
- Vcrypt ransomware brings along a buddy to do the encryption - Naked Security - May 14th, 2020
- Move over Zoom, this encryption company just released the first fully end to end encrypted conferencing solution - Yahoo Finance - May 14th, 2020
- GovCon Expert Chuck Brooks: Three Steps for Protecting Data in the Public and Private Sectors - GovConWire - May 14th, 2020
- What is the difference between Symmetric and Asymmetric Encryption? - TWCN Tech News - May 14th, 2020
- Encryption Key Management Software Market Growth by Top Companies, Trends by Types and Application, Forecast to 2026 - Cole of Duty - May 14th, 2020
- IoT Security Solution For Encryption Market Growth by Top Companies, Trends by Types and Application, Forecast to 2026 - Cole of Duty - May 14th, 2020
- Mobile Encryption Technology Market Growth by Top Companies, Trends by Types and Application, Forecast to 2026 - Cole of Duty - May 14th, 2020
- Data Encryption Service Market Growth by Top Companies, Trends by Types and Application, Forecast to 2026 - Cole of Duty - May 14th, 2020
- Congress May Hand Bill Barr the Keys to Your Online Life - The New Republic - May 14th, 2020
- DataLocker Sentry K300 8GB Encrypted Thumb Drive Review - TweakTown - May 14th, 2020
- Hardware Encryption Technology Market Growth by Top Companies, Trends by Types and Application, Forecast to 2026 - Cole of Duty - May 14th, 2020
- Global Cloud Encryption Software Market SHARE, SIZE 2020| EMERGING RAPIDLY WITH LATEST TRENDS, GROWTH, REVENUE, DEMAND AND FORECAST TO 2026 -... - May 14th, 2020
- Mobile Encryption Market Growth by Top Companies, Trends by Types and Application, Forecast to 2026 - Cole of Duty - May 14th, 2020
- Hardware Based Encryption Market Growth by Top Companies, Trends by Types and Application, Forecast to 2026 - Cole of Duty - May 14th, 2020
- Email Encryption Software Market Incredible Possibilities, Growth With Industry Study, Detailed Analysis And Forecast To 2025 - Bulletin Line - May 14th, 2020
- Google Duo is coming to the web via Chrome; features Family mode, end-to-end encryption - Moneycontrol - May 14th, 2020
- Global trade impact of the Coronavirus Commercial Encryption Software Market Applications and Company's Active in the Industry Science Market Reports... - May 2nd, 2020
- Email Encryption Market Growth Opportunities, Challenges, Key Companies, Drivers and Forecast to 2026 Cole Reports - Cole of Duty - May 2nd, 2020
- U.S. Hardware Encryption Market (2019 to 2026) - by Algorithm & Standard, Architecture and Field-Programmable Gate Array, Product, Application,... - May 2nd, 2020
- Innovative Encryption Algorithm Developed in South Korea - BusinessKorea - May 2nd, 2020
- Online course trains students in the bizarre world of quantum computing - Livescience.com - May 2nd, 2020
- Encryption Software Market Growth Opportunities, Challenges, Key Companies, Drivers and Forecast to 2026 Cole Reports - Cole of Duty - May 2nd, 2020
- COVID19 impact: Global Cloud Encryption Software Market Trends (Constraints, Drivers, Opportunities, Threats, Challenges, recommendations and... - May 2nd, 2020
- Review of the iStorage datAshur Pro2, an encrypted thumbdrive for home and work - Neowin - May 2nd, 2020
- Kanguru expands encrypted flash drive range with new 256GB options - Geeky Gadgets - May 2nd, 2020
- Global Encryption Management Solutions Market Size |Incredible Possibilities and Growth Analysis and Forecast To 2026 | Check Point Software... - May 2nd, 2020
- The COVIDSafe app was just one contact tracing option. These alternatives guarantee more privacy - The Conversation AU - May 2nd, 2020
- Data Encryption Service Market Detailed Analysis of Current Industry Figures With Forecasts Growth by 2026| Microsoft, IBM, OneNeck - News Log Book - May 2nd, 2020
- ACLU, EFF still trying to get documents unsealed in Facebook encryption case - CyberScoop - April 29th, 2020
- Advanced Encryption Standard (AES): What It Is and How It Works - Security Boulevard - April 29th, 2020
- How Let's Encrypt changed the web with free, easy encryption - Fast Company - April 29th, 2020
- Group video calls of up to 100 participants, with encryption and noise cancellation - Explica - April 29th, 2020
- Analysis of COVID-19-Encryption Management Solutions Market 2019-2023 | Rising Demand For Digitalization to Boost Growth | Technavio - Yahoo Finance - April 17th, 2020
- Protecting consumers personal data becomes top reason for encryption, global study involving nCipher Security finds - Cambridge Independent - April 17th, 2020
- Signal: Well be eaten alive by EARN IT Acts anti-encryption wolves - Naked Security - April 17th, 2020
- Coronavirus tracing tech policy 'more significant' than the war on encryption - ZDNet - April 17th, 2020