For a while I used the WhatsApp instant messenger as a replacement for SMS. The application had a nicer user interface than Android’s SMS application (and probably still has). The WhatsApp service also allowed me to avoid the ridiculous fees that mobile providers charge for text messages, particular to other countries. But I didn’t enjoy it for long.
A lot of sources reported how poor the security of this service was. Messages weren’t encrypted during transfer and the authentication was very weak. An attacker only had to know your phone number to get access to your messages and even send faked messages which would appear to originate from your account. But WhatsApp Inc., the company behind the WhatsApp service, didn’t try to fix these shortcomings. They instead send lawyers after the people who had reported and demonstrated these security holes. At that point of time I deleted my WhatsApp account.
To make matters worse WhatsApp Inc. have been purchased by Facebook during the past week. A company who failed to protect the privacy of their customers has been bought by a company who considers privacy an obstacle to good business.
But this could be a blessing in disguise. It raised the awareness for (the lack of) security and privacy protection in most instant messaging services. Based on this excellent review of the security of instant messaging services that are currently available on mobile platforms I tried out surespot encrypted messenger. It turns out that surespot fulfils all my requirements:
- It is available for both Android and iOS (my wife has an iPhone).
- It uses modern, strong, end-to-end encryption to protect your privacy.
- It uses push notifications which is required for reliable operation under iOS.
- You don’t have to provide any personal information to create an account. You simply pick an account name and a password.
- The client doesn’t transfer your contacts to the surespot servers. It only uses your contact information to send out invites on your explicit request.
- The user interface is decent.
It seems that I finally found the messaging solution that I was looking for. And if you value your privacy as well you might want to take a look at the surespot encrypted messenger, too.