Data transmitted through smartphones from the regular text message applications are %100 insecure. All transmitted data can be read by your provider, their third parties, and a number of other agencies you don’t want reading your personal messages. With a number of new encrypted chat applications arising since Snowden revelations and Facebook buying Whatsapp, its time to provide a list of truly secure smartphone messengers. Below is a list of secure instant messaging applications for your smartphone that you can trust. All providers listed will have built in encryption, and various other privacy enhancing features.
1. Telegram: Telegram is an instant messaging application for both iPhone and Android to securely communicate back and forth. Telegram provides end-to-end encryption meaning all messages sent and received through the application are fully encrypted, and no third party can read or harvest data from your messages. Telegram even has a ‘Secure Chat’ feature which allows for an untimed secure chat that will self destruct all messages by default. If you prefer, Telegram has no limit on how large chat logs are, so you can save chats, messages, and all sorts of data on their servers for any amount of time. You can also send messages, photos, videos and files of any type (doc, zip, mp3, etc). “We support two layers of secure encryption (server-client and client-client). Our encryption is based on 256-bit symmetric AES encryption, RSA 2048 encryption and Diffie–Hellman secure key exchange.” – Website FAQ. The application is free for both platforms and is an open source project, meaning anyone can check, review, or add to the code.
2. Surespot: Surespot an another secure instant messaging application that offers “exceptional end-to-end encryption for every text, image and voice message” transmitted through the service. SureSpot is another free and open source application that can be used on both platforms. SureSpot does offer less flexibility not allowing documents to be sent through the service, but in turn allows voice messages right from the UI. SureSpot encrypted messenger uses “256 bit AES-GCM encryption using keys created with 521 bit ECDH”, that only the senders and receivers can decrypt. SureSpot is free on both devices.
3. Threema: Threema is another secure messaging application that allows for secure messaging with end-to-end encryption. Threema is a bit more restricted in it can only send text, photos, videos and your current GPS location. Threema uses: “asymmetric ECC based encryption used by Threema has a strength of 255 bits.” The application can be used on both platforms, iPhone and Android, but is a paid application for both systems.
4. CyberDust: CyberDust is a bit of a newer privacy concept. While using industry standard encryption, CyberDust takes a different approach offering only self destructing messaging software. CyberDust allows users to send messages back and forth to each other through the application. Once a message is sent, the receiver can only view that message for 30 seconds before the message self destructs and is %100 erased from the users phone and server. CyberDust does allow pictures and text to be sent. CyberDust will notify any parties inside the chat if a receiver takes a snapshot of the chat or anything similar. CyberDust is %100 free, and is currently only for iPhone users.
5. TextSecure: Textsecure is an application that allows for secure end-to-end encrypted messaging. TextSecure is an open source project built by WhisperSystems. Textsecure uses “Curve25519, AES-256, and HMAC-SHA256” encryption throughout the application. Messages are transmitted using AES-256 encryption. TextSecure is a free and open source application. TextSecure is only for Android phones.
6. Silent Text: Silent Text is another end-to-end encrypted messenger. Silent Text is built by Silent Circle, one of the leading providers in encrypted communications. Silent Text allows users to send text, image, voice messages, map locations, self destructing messages, and file transfers up to 100MB in size (Word, PDF, Excel, PowerPoint, Keynote, Pages, Google Docs – any file.) Silent Text is a paid subscription service for both iPhone and Android devices.
Secure messaging apps are becoming more prevalent as more NSA revelations come to light, and corporations buy out others. Whatsapp, the once somewhat secure messaging application, was recently bought by Facebook, making the application %100 insecure allowing Facebook to see every piece of data transmitted through the application. Encrypted communications can be vital for sending sensitive information through data lines. Text messages can contain personal information you don’t want others reading, or sensitive credentials begin passed through them. Secure messaging for smart phones will start to become more prevalent as the NSA is tapping into every major data line the US and is gaining unauthorized control overseas.