Instant Messaging Apps and Encryption
May 20, 2019 at 10:44 AM
Instant Messaging Apps and Encryption
Instant messaging apps have been around for a while and are becoming an increasingly popular way to communicate within the work place. In order to prevent data from being accessed by unauthorised users, security should always be the number one priority during communication. This is especially true if the data runs the risk of causing damage if it falls into the wrong hands.
This blog will cover encryption, why encryption is important (specifically end-to-end encryption), and a list of recommended instant messaging apps that implement encryption into their software.
What is encryption?
Encryption is a method of translating readable data (plaintext) into unreadable data (ciphertext) to allow you to transport the data without the risk of it being visible to anyone who might intercept the message during transit. The encrypted data is then decrypted at the recipients end. Encryption is carried out by using keys (a key to encrypt the data, and a key to decrypt the data).
Why is encryption important?
Encryption is important because instant messaging is more popular than ever and is now included in business environments. Users want to be able to send private information instantly without the risk of sensitive data being compromised. For example, you may wish to send across bank details or a password for a user to access a specific system. If these messages are intercepted, encryption prevents them from being viewed (or understood).
What is end-to-end encryption?
End-to-end encryption ensures that only the sender encrypts the data and the receiver decrypts the data. There is no third party in between the sender and receiver performing the encryption/decryption.
Instant Messaging Apps that Provide End-to-end Encryption
Below are some of the most commonly used instant messaging apps that provide end-to-end encryption.
WhatsApp was released in 2009. It is a free application and is available on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry. It also has a web app which can be used on Mac and Windows which requires you to scan a QR code to your phone. It was acquired by Facebook in 2014 and now reportedly has over 1.5 billion users, making it the most popular instant messaging app available.
WhatsApp allows users to have one-to-one chats, group chats, send multimedia, and provides users with the ability to make voice and video calls.
To find out more about WhatsApp’s features, head to https://www.whatsapp.com/features/
Line was release in 2011 as an internet-based resource to communicate during an earthquake in Japan that damaged the telecommunications infrastructure. It now reportedly has over 700 million users worldwide. It is free to use and is available on iOS and Android.
Line provides a feature that allows you make to make a free 5 minute international call, providing you watch their advertisements first.
For more information on the features of Line, pop over to https://at.line.me/en/feature
Telegram was released in 2013 and currently has over 200 million active users. It is available on Windows Phone, Android, iOS, and has native apps for both Windows and Mac, alongside a web-based app.
One of the useful features which you don’t always find on other messaging apps is the ability to edit your messages after you have sent them. It also has a very large file send limit of up to 1.5GB in size, with the ability to set a self-destruct time period on your messages. You can also set password locks on individual chats.
For more information on the features of Telegram, go to https://telegram.org/
There are plenty of instant messaging apps with end-to-end encryption enabled. If used for business purposes, you can visit each site and test each app in order for you to make your own decisions on which service to choose. You can then make the app the official work communication channel to enforce your users to download and install. When it comes to personal use, you must remember that in order to use the app, the person you are communicating with must also have the app installed, so you may wish to find out which app your friends are using or choose one of the more commonly used services such as WhatsApp.
For more information on any of these applications, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
By Chris Walters