How Secure is Your Favorite Messaging App?

Messaging apps have grown popular with the growth of the smartphone industry. These apps allow us to instantly communicate with anyone from any part of the world. This has revolutionized the way we communicate. Sadly, with the growth of IM apps, there has been an increase in people and governments trying to hack and pry through the messages.

This has led to the need for more encryption in the messages we send on a day to day basis. Many of the mainstream apps have yielded and provided encryptions services, but are they truly safe? The Electronic Frontier Foundation was looking to answer that question?

The EFF and Its New Campaign

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) sort to provide a “secure messaging scorecard” as they call it. It’s still in the early stages, but it’s meant to evaluate which apps are the safest in terms of keeping our information secret.

The scorecard is part of a greater campaign to make users aware of the safety of the apps they are using. There are many people trying to steal our sensitive information, so we need to ensure that we’re truly protected.

This is more so when we’re vulnerable at sharing this information when talking to close friends and family.  The EFF do admit that the scorecard despite being a way to check the security efficiency of an app, can’t fully do that.

This is because as they put it “security is hard and some aspects of it are hard to measure”. The scorecard uses seven specific criteria to judge the security efficiency of an app. With that said, how did the apps perform?

Which Apps performed better?

You’d be surprised that based on the EFF’s scorecard many of the mainstream apps with millions of users didn’t perform well. In fact, it’s most of the lesser known apps that did really well. Of the mainstream apps, it’s iMessage from Apple that got a good score having passed 5 out of the 7 criteria.

Many other apps like WhatsApp, BBM and Facebook Chat didn’t fare so well. Some of the winners of this evaluation were lesser known apps like CryptoCat, Signal, ChatSecure and TextSecure to name but a few.

What are the Repercussions?

Since this is the first phase of the campaign by the EFF, the repercussions might not be as wide-reaching. Not many people even heard about this campaign and the secure messaging scorecard. The main problem is users are not attracted to apps based on how secure they are, rather they go for apps where most of their friends are using.

This scorecard is mostly going to affect the security conscious people as they move to the safer apps. There is still a long way to go before we’re truly safe online. The rest of us are probably going to be stuck on the mainstream apps without a care in the world. After all, we joined these services, not for their security, but rather to communicate with our friends and family.