Messaging Security

In this article, we explore what is messaging security, how it protects your private data when communicating online, why it matters, and finally, how to boost your online security and privacy when using instant messaging apps and similar services. Nowadays, millions of people turn to instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, and similar to communicate with friends, family members, or someone else.

With millions of active users, instant messaging apps fall into the category of the most popular communication channels today. With so many great options, instant messaging has become the most dominant form of online communication and a lot has changed from popular chat rooms back in the late 90s. At the time when real-time chat rooms were on the rise, the internet was a much safer place while today we cannot say the same.

Today, when we discuss messaging security, we focus on instant messaging apps and services we have at our disposal and their security measures employed. These messaging apps were born out of chat rooms that evolved back in the late 1990s and the early 200s. One of the most prominent services of this kind was AOL. This online service provider grew to become the most popular service of this kind three years after its launch in 1997.

As one of the very first services of this kind, AOL had around three million active users back in 1995 and it was one of the pioneers when it comes to instant messaging and online communication options. However, one of the very first instant messaging apps with great messaging security features was ICQ launched in 1996. In addition to AOL and ICQ, MSN Live Messenger, iChat, Jabber, and MySpace were also quite popular in the 2000s.

What Used to Be Popular?

Considering the fact that millions of people turn to WhatsApp, Snapchat, Viber, Facebook, and other popular instant messaging apps out there, it is hard to believe that only two decades ago none of these services existed. ICQ was the very first modern service of this kind to appear back in 1996 and it still exists. AOL launched in 1997 had the biggest user base in the United States shortly after being launched.

Another extremely popular instant messaging service was launched by Yahoo back in 1998. Today, it is not in use anymore but it was quite people back in the day. Back in 1999, Microsoft launched it Windows Live Messenger (MSN) and it was one of the most popular services of this kind for years. As estimated in 2009, it was used by 330 million active users. With the rise of other instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Windows Live Messenger lost its user base and it was shut down back in 2014.

Back in the early 2000s, Apple launched its iChat with great messaging security features. Following the footsteps of other great brands, Google rolled out its Google Talk (GTalk) instant messaging service which was replaced by the Hangouts app. Another great player on the scene was Gaim now known as Pidgin which back in 2007 had around three million active users. Back in 2006, MySpace was launched and it dominated the scene for many years.

Messaging Security of Popular Instant Messaging Apps

Those popular instant messaging apps that we use today with great messaging security tools and features were born out of older instant messaging options such as those mentioned above that started popping out in the late 1990s and early 2000s. While some of these services are still available, their popularity faded away following the launch of more modern instant messaging apps that today have millions of active users from all over the globe. These are:

  • WhatsApp
  • Signal
  • Telegram
  • Wickr
  • iMessage

Gold Standards in Messaging Security

Since these have millions of active users, they probably employ the best messaging security protocols and tools, and yes, they do. However, some are still better than others in terms of their data privacy and security measures. With over two billion users. WhatsApp owned and operated by Facebook Inc. remains one of the most popular instant messaging apps out there.

The app is available for both iOS and Android users, it is free of ads, and it offers a bunch of great features. When it comes to WhatsApp and its messaging security protocols, back in 2016, WhatsApp finally implemented the most secure end-to-end encryption protocol crafted by Open Whisper Systems. With this messaging security encryption technology, everyone communicating using WhatsApp can rest assured that their private chats and conversations are truly private.

Signal is yet another great instant messaging app out there that sets the gold standard when it comes to messaging security. Just like WhatsApp, Signal is available for free and it works on mobile devices powered by iOS and Android as well as on desktop devices. The same company which crafted WhatsApp end-to-end encryption empowered the Signal app. In addition to employing the best end-to-end encryption technology, Signal also lets you send disappearing text messages and even use passwords to lock your conversations.

Then, there is Wickr that offers Wickr Me instant messaging app for personal use, and Wickr Pro for enterprises and businesses. While Wickr Me is free, its premium Wickr Pro service comes with a small fee. Following the footsteps of its major competitors, Wickr also implemented the best end-to-end encryption back in 2018. In other words, with Wickr you can send encrypted, self destruct messages and files. Wickr also employs other messaging security tools such as a secure shredder, screen overlay protection, and screenshot detection.

With over 500 million users, Telegram Messenger is also setting gold standards in messaging security with its great end-to-end encryption technology and its two-step verification tools. iMessage available on iOS devices is another great option if you value your messaging security. In addition to using end-to-end encryption, with iMessage, you can send self destruct text messages and files and all messages of this kind you send are deleted from Appleā€™s server within a couple of days. There are other great services with great messaging security protocols such as Facebook, LINE, Viber, Threema, Confide, Wire, and KakaoTalk.

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