New Privacy Tools to Keep You Safe Online

March 7, 2017

Telegram logoA few new privacy tools might help you to keep your communications safer, whether you’re worried about ISPs, marketing companies or shady government organizations going through your data.

The first comes from a pair of brothers, the Durovs, from Russia. It’s called Telegram. Telegram is an application for text messaging that was designed to keep Russian intelligence agencies from being able to read people’s communications. There’s a $200,000 reward offered for anyone who can crack the encryption on the text messenger, and it works for iOS and Android mobile devices. It’s free of charge.

There seems to be quite a bit of demand for apps like Telegram. Demand was so high for the app during February that it brought down the WhatsApp server for four hours, according to The Verge. The features are easy enough to use.

MissivesIn addition to the features that most every messenger has, Telegram has an option to chat with someone with encryption. The interface makes it easy to verify that the messages are encrypted. Users can also choose to have the messages self-destruct after a certain amount of time, leaving no trace of them on the phone. In addition to this, Telegram doesn’t keep any records of those chats, so the messages are completely destroyed once they delete.

This app has certainly gotten popular and, given that there is so much concern about not only hackers intercepting messages, but much better-equipped government agencies, as well, this app could be just what privacy-minded people are looking for.

The next two options are a bit more complex. Missives is an interesting messaging service that’s completely decentralized, but complex. A secure smartphone is also out on the market, but comes at a price, of course.

Two Other Offerings to Check Out

BlackphoneIf you’re more technically adept, you can check out Missives, which uses BT Sync to offer secure messaging. It’s encrypted with AES 256-bit security and there isn’t any centralized storage of the messages. It’s complex, but those who prize security and who want as decentralized a solution as possible should take a look. It’s available at Missiv.es.

If you’re an Android user, you may also want to check out the Blackphone. It’s a smartphone design from Silent Circle and it comes with encryption built in.

What You Might Already Have

If you use a VPN service, check to see if they have an app for your smartphone. You can use it to encrypt your outgoing and incoming communications and stop some location services from figuring out your physical location. There are also significant security enhancements for using public Wi-Fi, as anything you send over the network will be encrypted, as will anything you receive. —see the list of VPN service here

BT SyncThe Telegram app is completely free, so Android and iOS users may want to at least take a look at it. Russia is somewhat notorious for its security state, so anything that was designed to get around their snooping—and that has a $200,000 bounty on it for anyone who can defeat it—may be a great addition.

Smartphones can pose significant risks to privacy. In addition to connecting to public Wi-Fi, call data, location data and other data is routinely collected. Any one of these products, and the idea of messaging over BT Sync, offer some nice privacy securing measures for anyone who wants to make sure that there are fewer people who have access to their data, and that their data doesn’t end up being stored indefinitely on corporate or government servers.

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