Instant messaging has become the standard means of communication in our world today. Whatsapp is leading — reaching over a billion active users as of February 2016, while WeChat, Telegram, and Messenger are following closely behind with millions of users around the world.
Telegram boasts of an encryption standard (MTProto protocol) that is highly secure and just recently, Whatsapp also introduced some sort of proprietary encryption to its messaging platform – both of these standards can’t be inspected for flaws, however, Telegrams’ has been put to the test more than a few times via a security contest which it passed flawlessly time and again.
Telegram today stands as the most secure platform of the bunch and while its clients across all platforms are open-source (allowing just about anyone to inspect the code), its encryption standard is not.
Signal (by Open Whisper Systems), on the other hand, is open about everything right from its codebase to its encryption protocols and implementation – which in essence, is the beauty of FOSS freedom.
How do Telegram and Signal differ?
While Telegram is a secure IM platform, it backs up your chat history (by default) to its servers scattered around the world for speed and security – each and every message you send are highly encrypted so you need not worry for the most part – but then, if you’re paranoid, there’s a “secret chat” option that can self-destruct when you leave a chat without logging your convo on their server.
Signal then again, doesn’t log your data in any way (except those locally stored) – it basically provides a secure medium through which your messages are transmitted and nothing is stored on their servers.
This enables Signal to provide its services at absolutely no cost as there’s never or will there ever be the need to store your data online thereby eliminating the exorbitant cost of maintaining multiple servers or providing new ones.
Signals’ service is completely free to use and mainly relies on donations from users like you whereas Telegram is backed by its founder (Pavel Durov) whose main source of income is vk.com (a social network common in some parts of Europe and Russia).
While Signal isn’t as extensive as Telegram in functionality, you get the most basic benefits of a secure platform which is being able to send your SMS/MMS sand make calls securely without a third party/ISP interfering or intercepting.
Set up Signal on your Smartphone and PC
Signal doesn’t have a native client for Linux or any other desktop platform for that matter but can still be used effectively via the official Chrome app (currently in beta) available on the Chrome Webstore.
First and foremost, you’d have to download the Android app from the Play Store after which you’d register with your phone number and import your SMS/MMS from the default messaging app on your device and replace Signal as the new messaging client on your smartphone (if you so please).
Next proceed to download the Chrome app from the Chrome Webstore open it and follow the prompts and you should be set up and ready to go in no time.
It is worth noting that Signal on the desktop doesn’t support the secure call function and will only work in sync with your Android device; iPhone owners won’t be able to enjoy this feature at this time….but not-to-worry, support for iOS is underway so you can check their GitHub regularly for updates.
Also, Signal on the desktop will not sync your old chat history on your smartphone before the time you had it installed on your PC and it’s recommended that you use the Chrome browser or its open source cousin Chromium. On the other hand, Vivaldi works equally well — since it based off Chromium.
Have you tried Signal in the past? How was your experience? Kindly share it with us in the comments below.
Thanks to eMcE for the tip. Got a tip? Submit here.