This app is not new, as it has been on the Play Store for some time. However, it takes a presence that few alternatives to WhatsApp and Telegram have been able to achieve, and this is for several reasons. We are going to analyze the keys to this messaging app that, among other things, focuses on two key and currently very sensitive aspects: security and privacy.
Where does Signal come from?
Its creation is curious because, although it dates from 2015, its origins go back five years before, and although has always offered advantages over its competitors, especially in terms of privacy and security, has never become a mass service in the style of WhatsApp and company. It was created by Matthew Rosenfeld, also known by his pseudonym Moxie Marlinspike and a computer security specialist or hacker.
Rosenfeld and Anderson, a robotics specialist, were the creators of TextSecure, a messaging application that was launched in 2010 and that already contained an encryption algorithm that was refined over time.
It evolved to such an extent that, in 2015, it no longer allowed only text messages to be sent but also allowed voice messages to be encrypted, as well as attachments. It was the moment when TextSecure changed its name to Signal, the app we know today, and its protocol is still considered the most powerful encryption of the moment in the world of messaging.
Signal, more security and more privacy
Despite everything, the app has been a pioneer in some areas such as the aforementioned privacy and security. Without going further, your encryption system, designed years before the app by its own creators, has been used by WhatsApp itself. So, we are going to try to explain what Signal is, some of its history and what functionalities and advantages it offers.
One of the most striking features of Signal is that it is an open source app whose code is available on GitHub both in its mobile versions (iOS and Android) and in its desktop version. This is how its creators wanted it with the founding of their new company, whose name “Open” was not by chance.
Signal adds some extra options compared to its competitors, such as being able to activate confidential sender for send messages to strangers without sharing your profileAlthough Telegram also gives you quite a bit of control over who can access your profile. You can also lock your registration so that only you can reuse your number to log into another device, asking you for an extra identifier. Thus, no one can take a mobile with your SIM and log in with your account on another mobile, since another preset PIN is needed.
The controversy of WhatsApp with security
The truth is that it is no longer the first time that the Facebook-owned platform has made this type of play. WhatsApp has shared certain data with the company Mark Zuckerberg. But users previously had the opportunity to refuse it. Now it is compulsory and voluntary acceptance for European citizens, or so they tell us from WhatsApp.
Signal vs WhatsApp vs Telegram
Once at this point, the logical thing is compare this proposal with the rest of the apps dedicated to instant messaging. The objective is to see what makes Signal different from other platforms, and to analyze why users are choosing this option over others.
The crucial difference that we find with WhatsApp, which is the benchmark in the sector, is the number of permits required one and another platform. These permissions are aimed at collecting information about the user, for which it is supposed to offer a more personalized experience. Although what the Facebook-owned app asks is overwhelming and excessive, since data such as the following are linked to our account:
- Phone number
- User ID
- Device id
- Advertising data
- Shopping history
- Approximate location
- Product interaction
- Bug reports
- Performance reports
- Payment information
- Customer Support
- Other user content
An amount so extensive that it was enough to make a list of everything that WhatsApp accesses. It is something that users do not want to see due to the need to use the platform, but that data transit is there. It is true that he uses tools such as payment of products through the platform, but this affects our privacy and causes Facebook to handle more data about us.
On the other hand, it is Telegram as a middle ground. This application remembers the name you have put yourself, your contacts, your phone and your user ID. These are very essential data that serves so that when you log in to another device, it is easier to identify yourself and Telegram can save your own contact list, in case you enter from your PC or another mobile without contacts, that you do not lose the ones you have.
In this sense, You can tell that Signal’s obsession is in privacy, since it only collects your phone number to be able to identify you as a user. This can have some discomforts if you are changing devices, but if you are looking for an application that takes care of your privacy, this is almost insurmountable.
The problem or inconvenience that we find is the same as always: surely almost nobody of your contacts uses this application. It is true that it has a relevant