To this modern day, cryptography is everywhere. And it's easier to use and more widespread than ever before. In fact, secure communications are in the new default for communication apps. It's expected that a product encrypts without you having to do anything. If you're looking for more resources, there are numerous simple, increasingly advanced encryption tips around the internet for anyone looking to keep prying eyes away. This is a guide on how to keep those eyes out of every facet of your digital life, from text messaging to emails.
Text Messaging Encryption
Encrypted messaging is the process of encoding information/messages so that no one but the intended recipient is allowed to view it. Modern encryption apps make use of an algorithm known as a cipher to convert information into random code, using either one of Public Key Encryption and Private Key Encryption. These methods help protect your personal conversations from potential unauthorized personnel from reading.
If you're interested in looking for a group of messaging apps that provide these methods of end-to-end protection, here is a list:
1. Apple Messages (iMessage for iOS, watchOS and macOS)
The Apple Messages app uses iMessage, Apple's secure messaging service to provide end-to-end encryption to users' messages sent via the app. The app makes use of the user's Apple ID, which uses the the built-in iCloud encryption to keep their users' messages secure. The simple way to put it, not even Apple can decrypt the data, which has caused many conflicts with the US government in the past.
The Apple Messages app comes pre-installed on all Apple OS devices, and is ultimately the widely used communication app for Apple users.
2. Signal (Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux)
Signal is an encrypted messaging app that is available for the 5 platforms above. It is similar to most other messaging apps but is more geared towards privacy and security. It is free to use and includes all of the basic messaging tools such as read receipts, emoji support, group chats and voice/video calls.
You can set messages to automatically disappear on a contact-by-contact basis. On Android, open up the menu inside a conversation (the three vertical dots), tap Disappearing messages and set a time limit; on iOS, tap the banner at the top of the conversation to do the same thing. Bear in mind that conversations can still be captured via screenshot, though even this is blocked in the Android version of Signal.
3. WhatsApp (Most Popular Platforms)
WhatsApp is a free, secure messaging app that is available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Nokia S40 devices. While there are WhatsApp clients available for the Windows and macOS platforms, as well as a web browser-based version, they require a device running the mobile app to be present to sync with the desktop client. Audio or video calling is not allowed from the desktop or web clients.
In addition to text messaging, the WhatsApp platform also allows placing and receiving voice and video calls, images and other documents. Users can also send their current location if they wish. All data is wrapped in end-to-end encryption.
Video and Voice Encryption
Actual encryption & privacy are two features which many users have started looking when it comes to the voice and video calls. Just like how text chat should be secure, so private data remains private, the same should be for voice and video calls.
Here are some examples:
1. Viber (Windows)
Viber of the best apps when it comes to privacy and security which offers end-to-end encryption. It includes all types of messages, photos, videos, voice, and video calls. One of its unique features is that when a message is not delivered, it stays on the server, encrypted, and disappear once it has been delivered. It uses Signal Protocol for encryption.
2. Wire (Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, browsers, Linux)
Available for both personal and organizational usage, the Wire app offers clear voice and video calling. It works over VOIP and uses the same encryption. The company makes sure the data doesn’t get into the hands of the government. Their headquarter is located in Switzerland and servers in Germany and Ireland which is great when it comes to privacy laws from the government.
The best way to encrypt data at rest—rather than messages in motion—is en masse, by encrypting compartments of your storage, or simply encrypting your entire hard drive. Here is a list of potential resources you can use depending on your platform:
1. Disk Utility (macOS)
Apple’s Disk Utility allows you to encrypt chunks of your internal storage or external drives. You can either create a new encrypted "image" on your hard drive, or turn an existing folder into one of those encrypted hard drive compartments.
2. Veracrypt (macOS, Linux and Windows)
VeraCrypt is a free open source disk encryption software for the above platforms that enhanced security to the algorithms used for system and partitions encryption making it immune to new developments in brute-force attacks.
3. Bitlocker (macOS and Windows)
BitLocker Drive Encryption is a data protection feature that integrates with the operating system and addresses the threats of data theft or exposure from lost, stolen, or inappropriately decommissioned computers.
Email is far from the most convenient way to send secrets today. But for those who insist on that medium, some applications are designed to bolt a layer of secrecy over old-fashioned email. Here are some examples:
1. Enigmail (Mozilla Thunderbird)
Enigmail is a seamlessly integrated security add-on for Mozilla Thunderbird. It allows you to use OpenPGP to encrypt and digitally sign your emails and to decrypt and verify messages you receive. Enigmail is free software.
2. Mailvelope (most mobile devices)
Mailvelope adds missing encryption and decryption features to the user interface of common webmail providers. It supports the PGP encryption standard (OpenPGP, GPG) and is compatible with other PGP applications. Encrypt files on your hard drive with Mailvelope and send encrypted email attachments.
3. Protonmail (Android, iOS, Web Versions)
Protonmail ensures that all emails are secured automatically with end-to-end encryption. This means even we cannot decrypt and read your emails. As a result, your encrypted emails cannot be shared with third parties.
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