Online communication is as much a part of our daily routine as the morning coffee.
And chat apps, thanks to their real-time capabilities, have become a preferred method of communication – making it easier and more convenient to keep in touch with family and friends, as well as enhancing workplace efficiency and effectiveness.
Whether you’re chatting with your best friend, sending a photo to a family member, or getting the latest budget report to your boss, we share massive amounts of data. And unfortunately we rarely consider the consequences of this data ending up in the wrong hands.
You’ve probably heard something about encryption. But what is it exactly? And why should your real-time communication be through an encrypted chat app? Read on to find out these answers, as well as a few of the leading encrypted chat apps on the market today!
Getting set up with an IM client is pretty straightforward. Simply choose your platform, download the app to your preferred device, and verify your account. Many apps will automatically sync with your contacts also using the app, either by your mobile number or email address. Once synced, you simply touch or click the contact with whom you wish you communicate, and you’re ready to chat!
Behind the scenes there’s a bit more going on. Once you press “send,” your client rapidly dismantles the message into packets which are then delivered – either via your client’s servers or directly through a process called peer to peer (P2P) communication – to the recipient where it’s reassembled and displayed just as you sent it.
So what’s encryption and where does it fit? In many messaging systems, IMs pass through client, or sometimes even third-party, servers. Encryption essentially acts as a lock. Once you press “send,” your message is sealed and only you and the recipient have the keys to view the message. Importantly, encryption should be end-to-end, not just in transit. End-to-end encryption ensures that your message, if passing through client or third-party servers, can’t even be viewed by the them.
Chat apps now provide real-time connectivity and streamlined communication and collaboration to billions of users, both private and in the workplace.
But with the number of IM users and apps ever-increasing, so too increases the likelihood of hacks, breaches, and privacy infringements. Your instant messages contain pictures, documents, personal preferences, email addresses, phone numbers, financial information, scans of IDs, and everything in between. Without end-to-end encryption, this data can be stored on servers and ultimately end up in the wrong hands.
And by now, you’ve seen enough breaches of cloud-sharing platforms, web-service providers, social networks, and the list goes on. While such threats will always exist, end-to-end encryption provides you an added level of security. And with so many alternatives on the market today, you have the luxury to be proactive in your quest for an encrypted IM solution. Below we’ll show you a few of your options.
Telegram debuted in 2013 as an alternative to WhatsApp. The chat app connects users via a unique network of data centers located around the world. Crucially, though, Telegram never shares your data with any third-party. What’s more, by enabling the “secret chats” function, your messages can self-destruct across all devices involved. You can even set your account to self-destruct should you desire. Employing a more minimalist interface, the encrypted text-chat app is not only user-friendly, but free of charge.
Viber has also gone the route of encrypted chats, adding end-to-end encryption in 2016.
In addition to free text and group chats, voice calls, media sharing, and more, the popular chat-app conveniently lets you know how secure your chat is via a system of color codes. Gray indicates encrypted communications while green signifies encrypted communications with a trusted contact. Red, on the other hand, denotes an issue with the authentication key. Viber also offers a hidden chat feature with pin code access, for hiding chats on a shared device.
Importantly, both Telegram and Viber are primarily for personal use. For your internal team communication, here are a few of your more secure options.
Brosix has been an industry leader in secure business communication since 2006. The all-in-one enterprise IM solution not only employs a host of security measures, but also
provides your team a completely private network utilizing peer to peer communication channels. All communications and data – text and group chats, voice and video calls, unlimited size file transfers, and screenshots – are compressed and encrypted using the AES 256-bit encryption algorithm. Brosix’s servers are distributed and redundant and, vitally, customer data is never stored on them. For added security, Brosix provides you the option to integrate your anti-virus software into the platform.
Threema is an encrypted messaging app that protects your communications through the Networking and Cryptography Library. Each time you open the app, you’re either given a unique Threema ID, or the option to associate your email address, phone number, or a scannable QR code. Aside from text chats, Threema provides end-to-end encryption for group chats, voice calls, file transfers, status updates, even a polling system for feedback from contacts. Additionally, once they are delivered, messages sent from the platform are immediately wiped from the servers.
There’s no such thing as being too safety-conscious, especially when it concerns your data. And that extends to the chat app you employ. As instant messages have become a preferred means of communication for both private users and workplaces around the world, it’s time you consider the platform you use to communicate. Whichever chat app you settle on, give yourself the peace of mind that both your personal and workplace chats are secure!