Switching to Signal

Switching to Signal

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Posted by: Paul  |  March 6, 2024  |  Category: Latest News

Signal is a secure encrypted messaging app. Think of it as a more private alternative to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, iMessage.

Here’s why you should seriously consider switching to Signal.

Signal for Non-profit

Signal is run by a nonprofit organization called Signal Technology Foundation, which is a US 501c3 nonprofit. It was created by Brian Acton. He is an entrepreneur and computer programmer who co-founded the messaging app WhatsApp in 2009. After the app was sold to Facebook in 2014, Acton decided to leave the company due to differences surrounding the use of customer data and targeted advertising to focus his efforts on non-profit ventures. In February of 2018, Acton invested $50 million of his own money to start the Signal Foundation alongside Moxie Marlinspike (founder of Signal). Signal Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to doing the foundational work around making private communication accessible, secure and ubiquitous.

The last independent source code audit took place in 2016. It was found to be cryptographically sound. A full review can only really be done if you have access to the entire source code. WhatsApp uses the Whisper protocol, which was developed by Signal, and it has long been hinted that the encryption itself is not hacked yet, while it may still be possible to add an invisible group participant to a chat/call and not break the encryption. Unless you can do a full independent source code audit, you cannot determine whether these types of shenanigans are taking place

Signal isn’t owned by Facebook

Time and time again it’s been shown that it’s dangerous to trust Facebook with our data. Yet, well over a billion people choose to send their most intimate messages over apps made by the company. And while Facebook says it can’t access messages sent over WhatsApp and doesn’t have access to messages sent via Facebook Messenger, the company does mine your usage of those apps for other data, like how often you talk to someone and whose phone numbers you have stored in your smartphone’s address book.

In the wake of changes in the privacy policy of the Facebook-owned messaging application, WhatsApp, you might think of transferring your Whatsapp chats to other messaging applications like Signal or Telegram. This new policy of WhatsApp will share your WhatsApp account registration, and phone number, transaction data, service-related information, interaction information, mobile device information, IP address, and “other information identified… or obtained upon notice to you or based on your consent,” with Facebook.

How much can you trust Facebook?

Perhaps the most compelling reason to use Signal is Facebook’s long-standing lack of respect for its users’ privacy. Facebook has an appalling history when it comes to data collection and handling, from the Cambridge Analytica affair to its practice of sharing data about users with phone manufacturers.

It’s already proved that it can’t be trusted with WhatsApp user data that should, under EU law, have remained private. In 2017, European regulators took action against Facebook for sharing the WhatsApp users’ phone numbers with its Facebook social network for advertising purposes. Firmly in breach of data protection regulations, it was an opt-out rather than opt-in system. Facebook had previously claimed such a mechanism would never be implemented.

Facebook’s desire to insert adverts and commercial messaging into WhatsApp and potentially compromise its security prompted Acton to leave Facebook early, sacrificing some £850 million in stock in the process. Acton’s fellow WhatsApp dev, Jan Koum, also walked out on Facebook following reported disputes with the company over its efforts to weaken encryption. Mark Zuckerberg has since publicly supported end-to-end encryption, saying it will also be added to its Messenger app.

Facebook was until recently still vacillating over plans to introduce adverts to WhatsApp, with the latest reports indicating that the plan has finally been scrapped. Although it’s not clear what will eventually happen to the service when Facebook merges WhatsApp with Instagram messaging and Messenger.

Signal is incredibly secure

Signal gives secure messaging, voice, and video calls with end-to-end encryption. You can also build groups, but can’t relay messages to multiple contacts at once. Signal has recently appended support for group calling.

  • Signal supports self-destructing messages
  • Signal permits relay voice calls to its servers but the identity is not shared
  • Signal uses a back-end user-facing encryption
  • It uses Signal Protocol for implementing end-to-end encryption
  • It encrypts your metadata at multiple levels of security

Unlike WhatsApp, Signal isn’t owned by a company. It’s funded by a nonprofit set up by Moxie Marlinspike and Brian Acton, who co-founded WhatsApp but left the social media giant in 2017. Besides the user outrage, the encrypted-messaging service has also been endorsed by high-profile figures, including Snowden and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

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