Ever since WhatsApp gave an ultimatum to its users for abiding by the new privacy rules or leaving the popular messaging app, an underdog has risen: Signal. The latter has been topping charts in app stores after being supported by whistleblower Edward Snowden and currently the world’s richest man, Elon Musk. Let’s see what’s the hype all about.
Crux of the Matter
Underdog Rises On App Stores
Over 1 lakh users downloaded Signal, both on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s app store whereas WhatsApp’s new downloads declined 11% after its announcement of new privacy rules.
What Is Special About It?
On Whatsapp, you have to create a single-member group to send notes to yourself. However, on Signal, you can use ‘Note to Self’ to jot down thoughts while messaging others.
How Secure Is It?
Like Whatsapp, Signal uses open-source Signal Protocol, for implementing End-to-End Encryption. But it goes one step further by encrypting metadata too via ‘Sealed Sender’.
What Is Sealed Sender?
It is a new way to communicate between the sender and the recipient wherein no one, including Signal, will know who is messaging whom, which ensures ultimate privacy.
Which Data Does It Collect?
None. It claims to use only the mobile number for registration and doesn’t link it to the user’s identity, unlike rivals WhatsApp, Telegram, iMessage, etc.
It is Open Source
Signal’s source code is published for anyone to examine and use under a GPLv3 license for clients and an AGPLv3 license for the server. This means it has less potential for hidden vulnerabilities.
By default, Signal encrypts all the local files with a 4-digit passphrase. It also supports encrypted group calls and encrypted local backup and allows disappearing messages, from 5 seconds to 1 week.
- When Facebook announced its plans to acquire WhatsApp in February 2014, WhatsApp’s founders attached a purchase price of $16 billion: $4 billion in cash and $12 billion remaining in Facebook shares. But the actual price Facebook paid was $21.8 billion, or $55 per user.
- Brian Acton is an American computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur who co-founded WhatsApp. Acton left WhatsApp in September 2017 to start the Signal Foundation in 2018 with initial funding of $50 million.
- Matthew Rosenfeld, known as Moxie Marlinspike, is an American entrepreneur, cryptographer, and computer security researcher. Marlinspike is the creator of Signal, co-founder of the Signal Foundation, and currently serves as the CEO of Signal Messenger. He is also a co-author of the Signal Protocol encryption used by Signal, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Skype.
- Financial Express – Elon Musk asks Twitterati to use WhatsApp rival but instead they sent stock of unrelated company flying
- India Today – WhatsApp vs Signal vs Telegram: Which is More Secure
- Gadgets Now – 15 most-popular features of WhatsApp you also find on Signal
- Wired – Why everyone should be using Signal instead of WhatsApp