How can messaging apps prove that they are safe to use? It is a known fact that every developer will tell you that their messaging app considers the privacy and security of their users, but how can you be so sure? It might not be tested properly to secure sensitive information or worse, it hides a backdoor which will then be used by the government to infiltrate the conversation.
Nevertheless, developers are doing their best to make their users feel more secure every time they are using the messenger app and give them peace of mind.
Nowadays, there is no messaging app that sends messages in clear text format because all platforms use some form of encryption in order to prevent unauthorized parties from reading it.
Some apps encrypt messages in transition and storage but also hold a copy of the encryption keys which means they can decrypt and read the content of your messages. Other apps issues a pair of public and private encryption keys. It stores the public keys on its servers to encrypt messages while private keys are stored on user devices only.
Secure messaging apps make the source code of their application publicly available, also known as “open-source,” thus making it more reliable because independent security experts can examine and confirm whether they’re secure or not. To make it clear, open-source doesn’t mean absolute security since there are no perfect systems. But at least it gives the assurance that the app you’re using isn’t hiding anything nasty under the hood.
Every end-to-end encrypted messaging app handles a user’s identity differently. It can be known as a “safety number”, “security code.” or“key verification.”
Every user has their own unique “fingerprint” associated with their username, phone number or their device that is usually a string of letters and numbers. The easiest way to verify someone’s fingerprint is to do it in person which is done by opening a conversation on your encrypted messaging app of choice, make sure that the fingerprints on the two sets of devices are exactly the same and verify your accounts.
On the other hand, verifying a contact’s fingerprint remotely or through the internet is trickier because it requires sharing your fingerprint or a screenshot over another channel and making sure that they match.
If your app warns you that a recipient’s fingerprint has changed, it might be because they changed a new phone number or sent a message using a new device but re-verify their identities again to give the assurance that it is not someone trying to impersonate whoever you’re talking to in the conversation.
Despite having some flaws, there a still a lot of important benefits to prove that it is still advisable to use secure messaging apps especially in when talking about private topics or sharing personal media to each other.