If you live in the US, you probably use an Apple product, as Apple dominates the US market. However, globally, Apple’s market share is not as dominant. In fact, the leading software worldwide is Android, due to its universal and open-source nature, which allows it to be installed on phones from various brands such as Samsung, Google, and Blackberry.
Competition makes cross-platform instant messaging challenging, mainly due to Apple’s reluctance to open its iOS software to new messaging protocols. Although these protocols are more secure, Apple prioritizes its US market dominance over security. As a result, many people opt for social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook (now called Meta) for ease of communication, but these apps lack encryption and are not as secure as end-to-end encrypted instant messaging apps. A list of insecure apps is provided below.
Insecure Social Medias:
The primary purpose of social media is to generate revenue through advertisements, so why would they prioritize keeping your personal messages secure when they could sell them for profit? Just search for any social media platform followed by “data breach” or “privacy court case” for evidence.
Here’s a brief overview of these messengers: they lack end-to-end encryption as standard. iMessage is unique and considered secure when neither the sender nor the recipient backs up messages to iCloud. Apple recently added “Advanced Data Protection” which encrypts iMessages in iCloud backups, so for maximum security both users must have this enabled. However, it’s not a cross-platform messenger.
Insecure In General:
SMS messages (green text bubble) are insecure because they can be intercepted by hackers, service providers can access them, and they lack end-to-end encryption. This means that the data transmitted through SMS can be vulnerable to eavesdropping, tampering, and other security threats.
Signal – The Gold Standard (Recommended)
Signal is an instant messaging app created by Signal Messenger LLC that offers secure voice and video calling. With end-to-end encryption, your Signal contacts and personal profile are protected by a PIN, and the server cannot access them. Only those you chat with will have access to your encrypted profile.
On October 28th, 2021, Signal received a grand jury subpoena for Signal user data from the Central District of California. The company’s official response to this request included only three pieces of information, the users: their mobile number, last connection date (in Unix millis), and account creation date (in Unix millis). The official response can be read at the following link: https://signal.org/bigbrother/cd-california-grand-jury/
- Fast, Secure, and Private
- Large Group Chats
- 4K Video and Photo Sharing
- High Quality Video and Audio Calling
- Disappearing Stories and messages (Similar to Snapchat)
- Requires Phone Number
SimpleX – The Signal Challenger
SimpleX Chat is a decentralized instant messenger that does not require phone numbers or usernames for identification. Group chats can be joined by scanning a QR code or clicking an invitation link.
- Secure and Private
- Large group chats
- Video/photo sharing
- Video/audio calling
- Slow large group chats
Briar – The Offline Instant Messenger
Briar is a secure instant messaging app that utilizes the Tor Network to connect to other clients. It also has the option to connect through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for nearby devices. Its local mesh mode is helpful in areas with limited internet access.
- Most secure & private messenger, but not practical
- Encrypted messaging & forums
- Offline messaging via Bluetooth & Wi-Fi
- Messages stored on device, not in cloud
- No iOS support
- Requires receiver’s app to be running to send messages