These reviews are  focusing on messengers which you can easily use on your cellphone.  Whilst some messengers offer much more security and privacy than others,  your communications on your cellphone can never be 100pct secure due to  other systems functioning on your device.

For us, the  perfect solution would be a fully decentralized system. There is Bitmessenger and TOX, both of which work very well on Windows, Mac and Linux. TOX is a great solution when you do most of your business on a  desktop or laptop and it does have an earlier Android beta version if  you want communication more than just on your PC. But its ease of use  and lack of mobility let it down. Bitmessenger appears outdated and  lacks development .

There is one more decentralized solution  called Bleep which is from the makers of Bittorrent. It performs well on  a Mac and a little better on Windows. It works on iOS and Android but  unfortunately the android app doesn't work on BB10, so no luck for  BlackBerry users. The biggest problem with Bleep is that the push  notifications are not really reliable and sometimes it takes days until  you get an actual notification. Of course you could leave the  application open or check back on it manually. But again it's not the  messenger you'd like to recommend to your grandmother or rely upon for  your daily chats with all of your friends. The next big issue is that  it's not open source. Yes, Bleep is from Bittorrent which should give it  some credibility, but it has never been audited nor has it released any  source code. So we take their word for it. The whisper feature is  pretty cool and if Bleep works, it is really a good and secure solution.  However, it just lacks basic features in which I am a great believer. I  really think that sites like Ello (yes, we all switched over to it for  24 hours) lost out to Facebook because of the comfortable ease of use of  FB.

Despite the problem with the push notifications, Bleep is  still a good decentralized app for chat only and remains a privacy tool  well worth looking at.

If it's just about getting an easy  communication tool, and you want privacy, security, plus a few features,  there are some great solutions which you can use on a daily basis and  it will be more likely that your family and friends will switch over  too. They are not decentralized but still great. We will make an  in-depth review one app at a time within the next few days. In the race  are Threema, BBM Protected, Telegram, WhatsApp and Signal.

There  are other messengers which also claim to be secure and private such as Surespot, Wickr, Hoccer, Gliph, Silent Circle, Sicher and OTR solution ChatSecure but we've picked those we have used personally and feel  comfortable about reviewing. We might review the above messengers at a  later date, but for now we stick with the ones we have test driven for a  while.

Let's start with the weakest two of all, Telegram and  WhatsApp. When it comes down to privacy, it's a close call between these  two as both are at the bottom end of the scale. WhatsApp is a little  better in protecting your conversations but it is also good at tracking  your every move.

Telegram has one tool which claims the chat is  end to end encrypted. This sounds great, but we need to take the word of  the creators of Telegram as no source code is released for this part.  The standard Telegram chat is saved on Telegram's own servers!  Unencrypted, and in Plain Text! This is as freaky as it gets! Read this  again! Unencrypted and in Plain Text. The beauty for law enforcement and  spy agencies is that there is no need to do a man in the middle attack  as there is nothing encrypted to be found. Well, it's not entirely true,  they have a SSL encryption. But still the texts are in Plain Text on  their servers so a spying eye just needs to access the cloud. To make  this even worse, users sign up with their telephone numbers! This gives  the spying eye not just your chats, but your telephone number, your  friends, and your friend's telephone numbers. It is pretty much the last  app you want to use for secure communications! If you want fun, the  groups, the stickers (oh, we love the stickers) and the usability  between Mac, PC, Linux, Android, iOS and Blackberry, then Telegram is  fantastic. There is no better app which has such a wide and well  performing cross platform!

If you have "nothing to hide" feel free  to send me your address and a copy of your house key! Nah, what I am  just trying to say, Plain Text is pretty bad!

For fun, we give Telegram 10 out of 10. For privacy, absolutely zero!

WhatsApp!  It is one of those apps which has become so amazingly huge. It's easy  to use, people get comfortable with it, and it's owned by Facebook. Now  that sounds exciting, doesn't it? It also has your telephone number as  your username and comes pre-installed on some phones! This makes it an  easy sell for your grandmother to use. It also tracks your location,  your contacts and listens to your microphone.

Just a couple of  thousand times this week alone without your permission. It has all the  features you can wish for and it even has encryption. The guys from  Signal helped out with this part. This sounds good, if it wasn't for the  simple fact that the encryption is not forced. It is supposed to be  encrypted, but WhatsApp can drop or remove the encryption as they please  or if their servers are overloaded. The user would not know on their  end if the chat is encrypted or not. WhatsApp is easy to use but your  telephone number is again in plain sight and you never know if and when  you are encrypted. The source code is also not available for  verification. It is pretty bad about the microphone access and reading  your contacts without your permission. WhatsApp is one of the first apps  I will remove from a new phone (the second app for removal if Facebook  is pre-installed). WhatsApp is not something we can recommend during  this review.

Once we have finished all of the reviews, we will  find out which is the most outstanding by comparing all of the  messengers against each other. The King of Communication will soon be  revealed.

Part 2: A review of Signal from Open Whisper Systems

Share this post