4 WhatsApp alternatives, focused on privacy

The recent controversies related to new WhatsApp‘s Privacy Policy have lead many users to start looking for new alternatives.

Actually, WhatsApp claims to provide end-to-end encryption [1], which is a great security feature. There are, however, several loopholes, on which the company should give explanations.

In its privacy policy, it states:

“We do not store messages from our users in the ordinary course of providing our Services. We do, however, host our users ‘account information, including our users’ profile picture, profile name, or status message, should they choose to include it in their account information.”

This means your messages are probably safe, but WhatsApp stores user data on private servers and can leverage this information for marketing purposes.

Furthermore, the data stored on their servers can be handed over to the government , in the case of “out of the ordinary” events.

So, today I’d like to share 4 WhatsApp alternatives that are focuesd on privacy and security.

Signal

Signal [2] is free, has strong encryption, and works on all mobile platforms.

Each message is encrypted, so it can only be read by the sender and recipient, making it completely illegible to hackers. Signal uses open source encryption (the same protocol of WhatsApp) that allows experts to test it and find any bugs, making the app even more secure.

Notable features

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Open source encryption
  • Support for all major platforms
  • Self-destruction of messages

Threema

Threema [3] promises complete confidentiality. 
Your contact list and group information are only found in your phone memory, not in the application, while messages are deleted upon delivery. 

Additionally, you can establish contact with a person using an 8-digit ID instead of a phone number, thus further protecting your privacy. You can also verify contacts with unique QR codes.

Notable features

  • Phone number not required
  • Contacts verifiable by QR codes
  • Possibility of text formatting
  • Password protection of chats

Wire

Wire [4] is a secure messaging app with end-to-end encryption with the protection of European data retention legislation
It offers free personal accounts and paid business plans with additional support and features.

Available for all major platforms, you can access your account from eight synchronized devices.

Notable features

  • Secure chats
  • Timed messages with auto-destruction
  • Possibility of simultaneous use on 8 devices
  • Excellent call quality

Riot.IM

Riot.IM [5] runs on open source software, and supports VoIP and video calls, as well as end-to-end encryption for messages. 
Each user receives a unique ID, which is used in place of the phone number for greater anonymity.

Riot users have “chat rooms” and can visit any public chat . There are also “private rooms” accessible via a link.

Notable features

  • User ID instead of phone numbers
  • Open source software
  • Good desktop client
  • Multi language

References

  1. About end-to-end encryption – WhatsApp
  2. https://signal.org
  3. https://threema.ch/en
  4. https://wire.com/en/
  5. https://riot.im/app/

Related posts

  1. Security analysis of WhatsApp calls
  2. Some thoughts about the Signal Messaging Protocol
  3. My Weekly RoundUp #128
  4. Why WhatsApp (and Telegram) messages are not really private?
  5. How to build Signal Desktop on Linux