Emails remain the most frequently used communication tool even in 2021. However, other messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Messenger, or Telegram are also on the rise for professional and personal use. But when it comes to security, there always seems to be a bargain between emails and messaging apps.
So, are messaging apps like Messenger, WhatsApp, or Telegram more secure than email? Let’s review 4 of the most popular messaging apps’ security features.
Reaching 2 billion users globally, WhatsApp has become a fundamental business and personal communication tool. And to facilitate the business use of WhatsApp, the platform continues to release business products and features. Today, the platform has over five million businesses using WhatsApp to connect with their clients and employees.
Here are a few security features that WhatsApp offers to its users –
Each and every WhatsApp message and calls are encrypted. It means nobody, not even WhatsApp, can read texts between you and your recipient. It keeps potential eavesdroppers like governments, ISPs, and telecom companies from reading your messages.
Messages are only stored on user’s devices
WhatsApp does not store any messages or personal user information on their servers, even after the change of ownership. Your messages and call history are only stored on your devices and other backup services that you are using. WhatsApp only temporarily stores your messages in two cases: undelivered messages and forwarded messages containing media.
No call records
Traditional mobile carriers usually record substantial information about your calls and texts — for instance, the location of both parties, the longevity of the call, and the identity of the callers which appear on your phone bills. Unlike mobile service providers, WhatsApp does not store or record any of this personal information.
Strict business rules
For larger businesses that require access to more features, WhatsApp offers Official WhatsApp Business Solution Provider (BSP) to build on top of the existing framework to make it more scalable and efficient to meet their needs. With the help of BSPs, businesses can also create products to meet European, Canadian, and US privacy laws.
From a security perspective, Messenger from Facebook has a very different take when compared to its “sibling” WhatsApp. The Messenger app offers an opt-in feature for end-to-end encryption in conversation. To take advantage of the new security standard, you need to start a new conversation using the Secret Conversations feature, which now includes calls and video calls.
Messenger primarily collects information from your messages to improve their service and add new features. They do not share the collected user information with other parties or for ad targeting. Unlike WhatsApp, they store the messages on their server instead of your device, which reduces the chance of losing conversations if you lose access to your device but compromises the privacy of your data.
The Dubai-based messaging app Telegram offers a multi-layer privacy protocol to its user. It has robust end-to-end encryption to protect the privacy of the users. Telegram also provides self-destruct messages for communicating securely. As Telegram approached 500 million active users, the founder assured the users of maintaining their strict privacy laws and ownership, unlike other popular messaging apps. They have also stated that Telegram will refrain from selling private data or displaying ads in private chats to generate revenue.
Telegram stores user information and processes it to provide effective and innovative services and detect, prevent, or otherwise address security issues regarding services. They collect the following user information –
- Basic account data
- Your email address
- Your messages
- Phone number and contacts
- Location data
Favored by tech giants, cybersecurity experts, journalists, government officials, and many more, Signal has gained enormous popularity in the past few years (thanks to Elon Musk). Signal has been known for its incredible security and plethora of features.
Some security features of Signal includes –
Signal pioneered secured messaging with its end-to-end encryption by default on all calls and messages, which WhatsApp, Messenger, and Skype later adopted. Unlike Telegram and Messenger that only provides encryption for secret chats or conversation, Signal extends encryption even for group messages and calls. The platform also encrypts user profile info to protect the privacy of its users.
Privacy of contacts and secure enclaves
Signal stores messages and other user data on its server but employs secure enclaves, isolating storage on its servers that even the server owner cannot access. The isolation allows you to learn who in your contact list uses Signalwithout exposing your address book.
The Signal is an open-source project that makes its codes freely available on the web. The transparency allows anyone to review their infrastructure to ensure they contain no backdoors that provide access to users’ sensitive data.
Depending on messaging apps’ privacy policies, they can be as secure or arguably even more secure than email. However, email remains and will continue to be one of the primary communication tools for personal and professional use with 4 billion users worldwide. And this is why email security needs to be of utmost concern.
Your email address visibility is a critical part of email security. Spammers collect email addresses when visible on the web, either on social networking sites or other spam lists, and use it to attack you.
To check your email address visibility, go to Sniff Email — an online platform dedicated to finding out if your email address exists on the Internet. Enter your email address in the search field and click fetch to find out if your email address exists on the web within a few seconds. Based on the results, you can take appropriate action to remove it.