30DISC – Day 18 – Secure Messaging

There’s secure, then there’s actually secure!

Today’s challenge – Secure Messaging – Direct Link to Guide Page

So after removing all those apps from your phone, you’re now feeling a little empty. Fear not, because we’re about to give you back at least one icon. Today you’re going to install a secure messaging app, to ensure that your communications can only be read by the people you intend to read them.

Only a few years ago there was only one secure messaging application worth it’s salt: BlackBerry Messenger. Research in Motion, the makers of BlackBerry, made their fortunes on the back of the secure messaging platform for government and corporate clients. Now there are a plethora of applications, most of which are available to consumers.

Why do you need secure messaging? I’ll give you one good reason: the First Golden Rule of the Internet – The Internet Does Not Forget. The Internet Does Not Forgive. Simply put, you should consider that anything you write in a text message, email, instant message etc will be forever available on the Internet. Until the end of time. Long after the context of the message has disappeared. Worse still, maybe the full message won’t be available, and only a fragment of it. Think of all the things you’ve written in an email or text message over the years. I’m sure everyone can think of at least one thing they wouldn’t want the world to know. And chances are, it’s that one particular thing that gets spilled onto the Internet. It’s never the thousands of messages requesting bread and milk on the way. That’s why you need secure messaging.

More than that though, today’s breed of secure messaging applications also offer voice and video calling capabilities, so you can now talk to people without incurring call costs (if you’re using WiFi) and without your mobile provider having a record of it.

Although this is a “one day” Challenge, it’s actually spanned over three weeks of this Challenge. Each week the three of them had to install a new app and trial it amongst themselves. The apps were:

In the end Wire was the winner. And what swayed the decision? Surprisingly, the desktop application. Wire has a really nice standalone application which runs on your desktop/laptop computer (much like Skype). It is really polished and was unanimously liked by our participants. Signal was found to be a bit flakey on the Android devices, and whilst Whatsapp provided a good experience, the integration with, and ownership by, Facebook, was enough to put the users off the platform.

Wire is a free app, which raises the Second Golden Rule of the Internet:  If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. How does Wire pay for itself? They have a premium service aimed at business and enterprise users, and those customers subsidise the free users. If you’d like to hear the CEO of Wire talk about their revenue model and product development, listen to this podcast, featuring Justin Carroll, the author of the 30 Day Information Security Challenge.

If you want to try out Wire for yourself, add me as a contact (@geoffreymcaa) and send me the secret code word as your first message: #30DISC


Previous Days Here:
Day 0 – Introduction to the Team
Day 1 – Installing Operating System and Application Updates
Day 2 – Set Up A Standard User Account
Day 3 – Review Privacy Settings
Day 4 – Setup Private & Secure Email
Days 5&6 – Weekend Project #1
Day 7 – Install a Password Manager
Day 8 – Change Your Passwords
Day 9 – Browser Security
Day 10 – Firefox Security Add-ons
Day 11 – NoScript Security Suite
Days 12&13 – WiFi Security Checkup
Day 14 – Virtual Private Network
Day 15 – Two Factor Authentication
Day 16 – Smartphone Security I
Day 17 – Smartphone Security II


Written by Geoffrey

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