Secure messaging apps

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Keep prying eyes away from your private messages
Edward Snowden’s revelations about mass NSA surveillance, combined with the fact that the UK government is now requiring ISP’s to record all internet traffic with the infamous snooper’s charter, has made privacy a very precious commodity.

The ability to monitor your traffic means messages you send with many popular apps can be intercepted and read. In some cases, people can even impersonate you or your friends online.

There are messaging apps, however, which buck this trend. Some encrypt your messages before they leave your device, so if they are intercepted, they’ll be meaningless.

Much of keeping your phone activity privacy has to do with timing. Regardless of the app you choose, disabling notifications can go a long way toward ensuring no one is prying into your call or messaging logs.
However, in the end, anything you do on your phone includes a risk of discovery. These apps don’t make up for a lack of discretion and good practices.

Privatext

Though this app is relatively new, it offers an easy-to-use take on secret messages. Once you set a password, no one can view your messages without it. By default, all messages self-destruct in 20 minutes. However, there’s a handy clear button if you need to delete messages in a hurry. There’s also a dedicated camera and photo storage that allows you to take and save photos without them showing up in your device’s camera roll. While it might not offer the fancy features of some of the other apps, it’s discrete interface and simple controls make it a promising option.
Get the app on Google Play.

Couchgram

Couchgram allows you to password protect other apps on your phone–so you can still use WhatsApp or Messenger if you’d like. But the big feature we’d never seen is the incoming call lock. This allows you to set a pattern that you have to swipe before a call can be answered. You can also quick reject the call and the app will send a message through the secret message feature that lets the caller know you’re not available. Other features include hiding contacts or numbers from caller ID and call logs, automatic picture capture if someone tries to unlock your phone and fails and a privacy filter that dims your screen below stock settings.
Get the app on Google Play.

Secretly

The secretly app lets you post anonymously to your friends, co-workers, and people nearby.

  • You can posts secretly which will come from friends and people in your community, but you won’t know who. That’s pretty amazing!
  • You can join in a conversations and give your real opinion.
  • Can chat privately with anyone and you can make new friends.

So, Hey! If you love things that really secret, then this is will be great one.

 WhatsApp

In April last year, WhatsApp enabled end-to-end encryption across all platforms, meaning conversations can’t be read by anyone but you and the person you’re messaging. Not only are your chats protected, but WhatsApp provides a security code so you can verify that someone isn’t intercepting your messages and passing them on (this is called a ‘man-in-the-middle’ attack).

At this point, you might recall earlier this month there was a warning about a vulnerability in WhatsApp’s secure messages, but this was later proven to be false.

WhatsApp is available for both Android and iOS – you’ll need to have a verifiable mobile phone number to register initially (it’s also available for desktop computers).
You can download WhatsApp here

 

CoverMe

CoverMe includes features similar to the previous apps but adds another important feature if you’re not looking to simply protect communications–a secure file vault. Any file you put in your vault is locked behind a password and encrypted to keep prying eyes out. You can also set a decoy password that displays an empty vault upon entry. Other features include a basic password manager and self-destructing messages.

Get the app on Google Play.

Signal

Signal’s been in the spotlight lately due to the increased interest in secure messaging. However, it also offers features that can help you keep people out of your phone’s stored messages as well. The best options are setting a password and using Disappearing Messages. The password locks Signal until you enter it keeping nosey people out of your messages. Disappearing messages allows you to automatically delete messages sent to another device after a specified time.

This privacy-conscious messaging app comes from Open Whisper Systems who bear Edward Snowden’s seal of approval, no less. Not only is Signal easy-to-use, but like WhatsApp, conversations are encrypted end-to-end.

The source code for Signal is available online so security experts can constantly check it for vulnerabilities, too. In fact WhatsApp uses some of Signal’s source code for messaging.

Unlike WhatsApp, however, Signal doesn’t record metadata of messages i.e. the mobile phone numbers of your contacts, the number and time of messages and so on. If you back up your phone, Signal doesn’t store a copy of your messages, either. This app is available for both Android and iOS.
You can download Signal here

FrozenChat

Aside from its cool name and funky design, FrozenChat also offers end-to-end encryption with OTR (Off the Record) messaging. This means that not only are your messages protected and you can verify who you’re speaking to, but you also have deniability – anyone can forge a message after the conversation is over. In other words, it’s impossible to prove any message was sent by you.

FrozenChat is open source and also supports the open XMPP protocol which is used on thousands of servers. These are run by volunteers so there’s no one central server that can be seized or taken down. Sadly, FrozenChat is only available for Android.
You can download FrozenChat here

ChatSecure

Like FrozenChat, ChatSecure supports Off the Record messaging and the open XMPP protocol. The Android version is no longer maintained, but the iOS one is still actively developed.

When starting a conversation you will see a digital ‘fingerprint’ which you can check with your friend to make sure no one is intercepting messages.

ChatSecure also includes an experimental feature allowing for the use of Tor. This should conceal your location when messaging contacts. Try to use an XMPP server which uses a Tor hidden service to keep your conversation entirely in the ‘dark web’ as this is more secure.
You can download ChatSecure here

 

Wickr Me

Wickr is available for both Android and iOS. Not only does it feature end-to-end encryption but it can strip out metadata such as the timestamp from conversations. Messages can also be programmed to self-destruct after a certain period of time has expired. The app includes a handy wipe feature to securely erase messages.

Although several security organisations have audited Wickr Me’s code, it hasn’t been released publicly so there’s no way to check it for security bugs or deliberate backdoors. It’s also not very clear how effectively the app can delete data, so Android users should be sure to encrypt their device, too.

  • You can connect safely as because Wickr doesn’t store your contacts on their servers. By using configurable timer you can set the expiration time for all your messaging content, geo-tags.
  • Anonymous Issues– You can protect your conversations from being tracked, intercepted or monitored by anyone including Wickr.
  • You can remove all deleted messages and media from all your devices so they cannot be recovered.

You can download Wickr Me here

KakaoTalk

KakaoTalk is a fast & multifaceted messaging app. But very recent they just introduced encrypted secret chat feature among privacy worries.
Chatting on Kakao Talk will become more secure with a new hidden chat feature and has end-to-end encryption for all messages, which you may enjoy.

WhisPer

Whisper is another free anonymous social network that allows people to express themselves. With Whisper, you can anonymously share your thoughts and emotions with the world, and form lasting and meaningful relationships in a community built on trust and honesty. If you have ever had something too intimate to share on traditional social networks, simply share it on Whisper!

  • You can create and publish your whispers to a real-time stream of instant social interaction.
  • Connect with others with free private messaging.
  • Respond to other Whispers with your own anonymous Whispers.
  • Browse Whispers on topics that interest you most.

Silence

Silence is an awesome replacement for Android’s regular SMS app. It stores all messages you receive in an encrypted database (by default this isn’t protected by a password, but you can set one if you wish).

If two people are using Silence then the app will automatically recognise this and use end-to-end encryption to send text and media instead. Otherwise it can work just like a regular SMS application.

Most importantly Silence is open source so experts can check that its code is free of vulnerabilities, deliberate backdoors or other sneaky stuff.
You can download Silence here

Silent Phone

This app comes from the good people at Silent Circle – industry leaders in mobile security (and makers of the Blackphone). Silent Phone allows for secure messaging with your contacts as well as free voice calls in HD audio, along with file transfers. Other features include a quick shutdown button and a wipe feature to delete all your personal data.

The app is open source so can be checked by experts for vulnerabilities. It is free to download for iOS and Android, but you need a paid subscription ($9.95 per month – around £8, AU$13) to make use of all the features.
You can download Silent Phone here

 

Gliph

Gliph is available for Android, iOS and desktop PCs. Its secure messaging feature allows for encryption using SSL and also supports securely deleting messages. There’s also a self-destruct feature for messages which can be set to expire after a certain time. Unlike other messengers, Gliph also supports secure group messaging allowing you to talk safely with multiple people.

Furthermore, Gliph supports Bitcoin payments which allows you to safely send (or receive) cash to (or from) contacts. Do note, however, that the source code for Gliph has not been released, nor has it been audited by any security experts, so there are no guarantees on this front.
You can download Gliph here

 

Telegram

This app allows for full end-to-end encryption so you don’t have to worry about anyone intercepting your messages. However, if you’re looking to hide the messages and activity on your phone too, you’ll need to look at their Secret Chats or Self-Destructing Messages features. Both of these take a different approach to minimize the chances of anyone snooping through your phone and finding your communications.
 
Telegram is not only a quick and simple messaging client, but has an excellent ‘secret chats’ feature. Conversations are encrypted and can only be accessed on the same device where you started the chat. This app enjoyed some notoriety when it turned out that Islamic State was apparently using Telegram to recruit followers.

Note that the local message database is not encrypted by default so you have to set a password. The encryption algorithm used for secret chats, MTProto, was created by the Telegram developers – so there are no guarantees on the security front here.

Telegram is available for Android, iOS and Windows handsets.
You can download Telegram here

SureSpot

Be sure no one else can see your messages. By using SureSpot that everything you send can only be read by the person that you sent. Everything sent using SureSpot is end-to-end encrypted.

  • You have control over your messages, when you delete a sent message it will be removed from the receiver’s phone and images are not shareable unless you make them so.
  • Multiple identities allow you to be who you want with just who you want, and if anyone gets annoying you can block them.
  • You can also get the option to encrypt your voice messaging. Simply hold down the microphone button to record your voice message and release to send. Activate the feature from within SureSpot to start sending voice messages and enjoy secret speaking.

SnapChat

Yeah its SnapChat one of the popular app nowadays has been popular for snapping tool by which:

  • You can just snap a photo or a video, add a caption, and send it to your friends.
  • You can also add a Snap to your Story with one tap to share your day with all of your friends.
  • The best conversations happen when both friends are present, so SnapChat will let you know if your friend is here in your chat so that you can give each other your full attention.

In SnapChat settings will allow you to customize yourself where you may set location settings (Geofilter), front-facing flash (enable/disable for your mobile flash), reply feature.

 ringID

Though ringID has just launched as a newbie, yet I am satisfied by using its secret chat feature where by default you will get this feature as disabled, but users who want to communicate to their friends by keeping secrets, they can enable secret chat feature just initiating one tap and can setup the timer, for how long their sending messages be visible! After setting the timer the sending messages will automatically disappears from the mobile devices.
You can also send photo from the gallery, send voice messages, images or even you may send video message which will vanish within the set time between 0 to 120 seconds. From the timer configure option you can set the expired time for all of your messaging contents.
So it’s up to you exactly how many seconds later you want to see, that your sending messages are not any more to the receiver’s end.
Using ringID, you can also make free voice & video calls, share funny stickers, chat & secret chat, multimedia messaging, news feeds, Media Clouds and many more.

 Facebook Messenger

Like WhatsApp – unsurprisingly – Facebook uses the Signal protocol to employ end-to-end encryption with its optional ‘secret conversations’ feature in Messenger. Open Whisper Systems has confirmed this was all implemented correctly.

After starting a secret conversation you can send any content you would in a regular message such as text, a photo or video. Group messaging isn’t supported.

You can set messages to disappear. However, if someone reports your conversation it’ll be decrypted and sent to Facebook. Messenger is out for Android and iOS, but the source code isn’t available so there’s no way to check for vulnerabilities or intentionally installed backdoors.
You can download Facebook Messenger here

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