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New Version Of Signal App Makes It Easy To Send Encrypted Messages To Anyone

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Sunday, July 12th, 2015


Ever since Edward Snowden leaked details about NSA’s surveillance programs, people have become a lot more cautious about their privacy. The revelations have also led to the creation of several privacy-centric tools that rely on encryption to protect communications of their users. Recently Open Whisper Systems announced the launch of a new version of the Signal app which allows iOS users to send encrypted text, picture and video messages to other Smartphone users even if they are not using iOS. The latest version of the Signal app.

Open Whisper Systems is the company behind Redphone and Textsecure, the apps that help you to secure calls and text messages made through Android devices. While the first version of Signal allowed users to secure calls made through iPhones, there was no provision available to secure text and video messages. The new version of Signal app has not only added this functionality, it is now even compatible with TextSecure so that you can send messages to Android devices with full end-to-end encryption.

Signal 2 is a totally free app which allows users to send fully encrypted text, picture, video and group messages without incurring SMS or MMS fees. Additionally, users can make secure local or international phone calls without paying the high call rates charged by the telecom carriers. The best part is that the app uses your existing address book and phone number to send and receive messages so you don’t have to create a separate userid or remember another password of PIN in order to use it. And while you would need to register your phone number with Open Whisper Systems, your data is stored in a hash format so that no one, not even Whisper’s own staff, can read it.

Obviously, end-to-end security is the strongest point of the Signal 2 app. When you send or receive calls or messages through the app, not even your carrier or NSA would be able to able to snoop on them. The app even includes certain advanced security options to make your messages even more secure. What’s more, the service is extremely fast thanks to the Axolotl protocol used by the company. The service even includes a push notification technology which lets you know when new messages have arrived.

While the Signal app offers several innovative features, it also has a huge flaw. The text messages sent through the app can only be encrypted when you are connected to a Wi-Fi or data connection. This limitation is present since unlike Android, Apple doesn’t allow app developers to tinker with SMS messaging.

The launch of the app is indeed a good news for Apple users who have always wanted to send cross platform messages with total security. Signal 2 also seems to be NSA proof since it is an open source app whose source code is available to everyone. So even if the intelligence agencies ask the developers to deliberately introduce a backdoor, it won’t fly under the radar and everybody would know that the app has been compromised.


July 12, 2015
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