Today we will wrap up our three-day mini-series covering smartphone security. Your call history and text messages are available to your mobile service provider. They are also available to malicious parties that can hack your service provider. Your phone calls and text messages are also available to anyone with certain technology. Though IMSI-catchers like the Stingray are only available to law enforcement, today’s state “secrets become tomorrow’s PhD theses and the next day’s hacker tools.” Today’s task is protect your personal communications by installing and setting up secure messaging applications for voice and texts. I will cover my two favorite encrypted messaging apps, Signal and Wire.
Active Time: 15 Minutes
What it Protects You From: Traffic interception
Secure Your Communications
Signal Private Messenger: I have written about Signal several times before, so I won’t belabor the point other than to list a few of its features. Signal encrypts voice and video calls and text messages with the famous “Signal Protocol” and is so easy to use that even my mother uses it. Signal is free and available for Android and iOS. A desktop version is currently available as a Chrome app; I have some reservations about recommending it as I do not like having Google products installed on my computer. Another strike against Signal: it requires that you give our your phone number, which it then uses as your username.
Wire: Though Wire Private Messenger has not been around as long as Signal and is not as thoroughly vetted, I really like it (Wire has conducted an external security audit). Wire offers encrypted messaging and voice and video calling. Wire supports group calling, too. The best feature of Wire is how readily available it is. Wire is available as a standalone desktop app for Windows, Mac, and Linux computers, as well as Android and iOS mobile devices. If you don’t wish to install the app, you can access Wire and all its features through a web login. Best of all, you aren’t required to give Wire your phone number, as long as you aren’t setting up your account from a mobile device. For more information and to download Wire visit https://wire.com/en/. Read my my review of Wire here).
ProtonMail: If you would like to bring your encrypted email to your mobile device, ProtonMail offers apps for iOS and Android.
An ancillary task to installing these apps and becoming familiary with them is migrating your family and friends to them. Like I wrote in a previous article on convincing others to use encryption, there are several strategies you may employ to do this. There are many other secure and ephemeral messaging systems. Some are good, and others aren’t. I firmly believe free apps are the way to go, especially when their success depends on your convincing others to use them.
The other implied tasking is to actually use these apps! This requires a bit of behavior modification; you have been trained to use the built-in applications through years of smartphone usage. Convincing your friends, family, and co-workers to use them will go a long way toward making this process an easier transition.