Global surveillance disclosures made by Edward Snowden in 2013, raise the awareness for keeping personal information and mail stored online secure. The hype that followed these events is so big, some parts of the controversial Patriot Act lacked Congressional approval, and they expired on 1st June 2015. In spite of this, other parts of the Patriot Act are still valid and global surveillance is far from being over. It should be noted that government agents are not the only people who are trying to get their hands on people’s mail and personal information. There are also different kinds of hackers who can be much more dangerous than NSA.
Common Risks for Smartphone Users
Traditionally mobile users are the most affected by surveillance which is used by professional data collectors, thieves and black and grey hat hackers. Their attacks can result in identity theft, communication tracking and recording, discharging the phone’s battery, stealing social network accounts etc. Good thing about all this is that in recent years plenty of new safe mobile communication applications were developed, and now smartphone users can choose between tens of good applications that make their communication untraceable and free from harm. In this article we’re going to review some of those apps.
This proprietary encrypted mobile communication app can work on Android, iOS and Windows Phone. It can send text, video and audio content and voice mails. It also has a group chat option and since the beginning of 2015 it allows users to organize polls during group chat sessions. Threema users get their own ID, after launching applications, so there’s no need for linking mobile phone or e mail to the Threema account. The only way how this app can come in touch with some of the personal information from the user’s phone is by synchronizing user’s contacts in the address book, but the app asks for prior consent before the process starts.
This private messaging software can work is available for all the main OS in both smartphones and desktop computers including Linux. It has some advanced 007-like options when it comes to private messaging that includes encrypted end-to-end and self destructing messages. Telegram’s conversations are encrypted by AES-256 and the use of MTPProtocol, which is developed by the non-profit organization that’s running the app.
TextSecure works only with Android allows its users to exchange text messages and multimedia content. Application offers key fingerprints and QR Code scanning which enables users to verify their coresponders. This application was made by Open Whisper Systems, that was founded by Moxie Marlinspike who left his previous firm called Whisper Systems not long after it was acquired by Twitter.
This is another open-source application for secure communication that can work on both mobile phones and desktop computers. It encrypts chats at the client’s side and the data that goes to the server is already encrypted. It can work as an mobile application and also a browser extension or several famous web browsers like Forefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari etc. Goal of this app is to combine information security with advanced usability.
This app was made by popular Guardian Project that’s famous for making open-source mobile phone security software. It is a full featured instant messaging app and it can work on Android and iOS. It is integrated with the OTR protocol and it supports Jabber XMPP. Previous name of this application was Gibberbot.