With all the lately hype around privacy and security, more people have become aware of how much their data can be tracked and collected by companies like Facebook and Google. And while these companies may not spy on your messages as they’re sent or stored (yet), there are still plenty of reasons to avoid using them altogether. If you don’t want to deal with this issue, a good alternative is an encrypted messaging platform called Signal.
This article will explain what Signal is and why it is better than WhatsApp and similar services. We’ll also address some concerns when choosing between different platforms. The goal here is to give everyone enough information to make informed decisions about which services to use in place of others.
What is a Signal?
As mentioned above, Signal was created specifically to solve one problem: large tech corporations’ invasion of user privacy. It has been designed from scratch with end-to-end encryption in mind. This means that no third parties ever see your data because everything is protected behind layers of secrecy.
Its main selling point is its ability to keep users’ private communications away from prying eyes. You can send a message without worrying about anyone listening to it, including government agencies. Even if someone did intercept such a message, they wouldn’t know who sent it unless they cracked the code themselves.
This feature alone gives Signal quite the advantage against competitors. But it goes beyond just being difficult to access to. Several additional features set Signal apart from other messaging apps. Let’s take a look at each of them now.
Why is Signal Special?
One big reason why Signal is superior to most alternatives is its strict adherence to non-negotiable rules regarding privacy and security. For example, unlike Facebook Messenger, Signal does not collect metadata identifying users or store IP addresses of devices used to open the service.
On another note, Signal doesn’t track users either. They only request basic details about us, namely our names, email addresses, phone numbers, etc., which are required to create accounts. Still, even you can use virtual numbers to bypass Signal SMS verification service, and with that, you can increase the anonymity level in your account. These pieces of info aren’t enough to identify individuals – they remain generic across every person who signs up.
Furthermore, instead of asking for permission to gather data, Signal asks whether we’d prefer to opt out once the company collects certain bits of information. On the contrary, WhatsApp stores your name, profile picture, gender, date of birth, location, phone number, and mobile carrier. It also sends push notifications whenever new chats arrive.
Additionally, Signal doesn’t allow for ad tracking. Every time you visit a website via Signal, you won’t find ads related to anything specific to your interests. Instead, you get random ads targeted towards whatever demographic groups you belong to.
Another benefit of Signal is that it allows multiple device logins within the same account. If you start chatting on your laptop, you can continue doing so later on your smartphone. Since Signal uses public-key cryptography, you need two keys to encrypt text messages for sending and one for receiving. Your contacts must input theirs too before proceeding further.
Signal offers audio and video calls, making communication more manageable and less stressful. Unlike Skype, however, it does this through peer-to-peer connections rather than relying on servers hosted by third parties.
Overall, Signal has received praise for its high standards and commitment to protecting its clients. However, there are some drawbacks worth mentioning. One of them is that Signal requires a monthly subscription to unlock extra features.
You could argue that paying money to use a product isn’t inherently wrong, especially considering that most free messaging apps often require invasive permissions to function correctly. Nevertheless, since Signal already provides adequate functionality without paying a dime, many would agree that this approach makes sense.
If you decide to use Signal anyway, consider buying a lifetime membership to remove the recurring charge. Alternatively, you can try Signal Free first to test whether it suits your needs.
Security on Signal
After looking at Signal’s core principles, let’s discuss its actual security measures. Signal employs 256-bit AES encryption, RSA 2048 crypto signatures, zero-knowledge proofs, and forward secrecy to ensure utmost confidentiality.
These protocols prevent hackers from accessing private conversations. Furthermore, Signal includes numerous safeguards to block malware attacks, phishing attempts, and spamming campaigns.
Moreover, Signal promises never to share your data with advertisers, social media networks, or governments. As far as its internal policies go, Signal says it complies fully with US laws and regulations. Similarly, Signal respects Swiss laws and treaties regarding data protection.
Unlike some popular messaging apps, Signal offers optional end-to-end encryption. When enabled, no one except the sender and receiver knows what’s inside the conversation. Even if they somehow manage to crack the code, they won’t be able to read what’s written on it unless they gain physical access to your device.
What happens during transmission depends largely on where you live. Some countries offer little to no regulation regarding online data transfers, whereas others enact stricter legislation. So depending on where you live, you may wish to check whether your preferred messaging app enforces strong cybersecurity measures.
Signal vs. WhatsApp
Let’s compare Signal versus other major messaging apps available today. First off, let’s talk about the most significant rival to Signal, WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which has a horrendous history of violating privacy rights worldwide. Last year, WhatsApp announced plans to change its business model from advertising to subscriptions. While this switch sounds excellent on paper, critics argued that it’s worse for customers.
This decision would mean that WhatsApp subscribers would no longer receive special deals and promotions directly from retailers. Moreover, this shift would involve charging businesses for advertising space on the app, increasing consumers’ prices.
Since WhatsApp runs entirely on centralized cloud infrastructure based in Ireland, it’s vulnerable to cyberattacks coming from outside the country. A recent study found that almost half of WhatsApp users were affected by the infamous NSO Group hack in 2018. That attack made it possible to compromise phones remotely and spy on encrypted messages.
Some people believe that WhatsApp is susceptible to surveillance by intelligence agencies due to its nature as a cross-platform messenger. Although WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption, it can technically comply with legal requests to turn over chat logs.
We hope our comparison helped clear things up. Now you know exactly why Signal is the best option currently available. Whether you choose to stick with Signal forever or occasionally hop on, knowing that it protects your privacy and keeps malicious actors at bay is paramount.
And remember, if you’re concerned about someone else spying on your activity, you can always install anti-virus software to protect yourself.