WhatsApp Vs Signal
WhatsApp is the most widely used chat app on the globe, with more than two billion subscribers. Since being acquired by Facebook in 2014, the app has popularized end-to-end encryption in daily messages, making it the norm for messaging in 2016.
To do this, it partnered with Moxy Marlinspike’s Open Whisper Systems to incorporate the Signal encrypted messaging protocol. The protocol, which is commonly accepted as the gold standard of cryptographic communications, has also been used by Microsoft and Google.
Now known as Signal Messenger, LLC, Open Whisper Systems is a member of the Signal Foundation. The foundation has poured more focus into its app as a result of the rebranding. In and by itself, the Signal Foundation’s flagship Signal app offers full-featured and simple-to-use encrypted communications.
It has private and community messages, as well as one-to-one audio and video chat. There are several compelling reasons to choose the Cool Original flavor of encrypted messaging over WhatsApp. The European Commission urged its employees to do just that in February.
Signal’s security capabilities are more up to date
The Signal is the first to have new security features. E.g., although Signal has had disappearing messages – messages that are instantly removed after a certain amount of time – since 2016, the function is only being tested with a small group of WhatsApp users.
View-once media posts, encrypted accounts, an incognito keyboard switch for Android to prevent Board from sending the typing history back to Google, and backups that don’t return to unencrypted storage Google Drive or Apple iCloud are all functionality that WhatsApp users don’t have.
Signal now has a much wider variety of clients, including a dedicated Linux desktop client expected to cater to those in the security and data analysis industries. At the same time, WhatsApp refers them to its mobile app.
Signal is an open-source App
Under a GPLv3 license for clients and an AGPLv3 license for the server, all of Signal’s source code is available for everyone to examine and use. This means you can peek inside it and see what’s going on – or, most importantly, you can focus on the skills of people who study the code and know exactly what they’re looking for.
Signal has a lower risk of exposing latent flaws
WhatsApp is more inviting to malicious actors because it is a bigger network. Still, because its codebase is a proprietary closed box, it may take longer for harmful bugs to be discovered. Any programmer will and would be vulnerable at some point – Signal has fixed a couple of its own.
However, WhatsApp’s closed-source coding (apart from using the open Signal protocol) ensures that certain possible targets are unclear before they are exploited. In 2019, security services exploited a flaw in WhatsApp’s VoIP stack to insert spyware, especially concerning.
You can (but probably shouldn’t) run your Signal server.
Another benefit of open-source software is that you can experiment with it if you want to. For personal or company purposes, you certainly won’t want or need your Signal server. It’s intended as a mass communications network and isn’t built to scale down; it’s difficult to develop. There are no containerized models for quick deployment.
If you’re more technically inclined, though, designing a prototype instance and poking it with a stick will teach you a lot about how a device works. It’s not simple, but there are group guides to help users set up a Signal server. There are some fascinating forks, such as a decentralized messaging framework.
How far would you put your confidence in Facebook?
The fact that Facebook has a long history of disregard for its users’ privacy is perhaps the most convincing excuse to use Signal. From the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the tradition of exchanging consumer data with handset vendors, Facebook has a dreadful track record in data gathering and handling.
It has also shown that it cannot be trusted with WhatsApp consumer data that should have stayed confidential under EU law. European authorities fined Facebook in 2017 for exchanging WhatsApp users’ phone numbers with the Facebook social network for advertisement purposes. It was an opt-out rather than an opt-in scheme and violated data privacy legislation. Previously, Facebook stated that such a mechanism would never be enforced.
When providing details to EU regulators in 2014, WhatsApp co-developer Brian Acton, who left Facebook in 2017 and went on to co-found the Signal Foundation with Marlinspike, sharply criticized Facebook’s approach to privacy, revealing that Facebook coached him “to clarify that it will be very difficult to combine or mix data between [WhatsApp and Facebook]”
Acton left Facebook early, losing $850 million in stock in the process, due to Facebook’s desire to inject advertisements and commercial messages into WhatsApp, potentially jeopardizing its protection.