give me an alternative to WhatsApp

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  1. #1

    give me an alternative to WhatsApp

    I love to text, but always fear about the security of WhatsApp. I hear a lot about the company selling user data to Facebook. But what's a text app that's just as good?

  2. #2
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Los Angeles

    What exactly is your concern?

    Whatsapp has end-to-end encryption now. So basically no one can eavesdrop on your conversations without a man-in-the-middle kind of attack, which will also cause a security alert on receivers' ends (e.g., when i reset my phone, one of my contacts asked me to reconfirm my identity)

    There's surely more secure messaging apps out there, but the problem is hardly anyone one uses them... whatsapp + line are the big ones.

  4. #4

    I don't know...I just worry about privacy concerns. I feel like my data isn't my own. Has anyone used these? It also says: "Since the messenger service was purchased by Facebook, there have been a few notable issues with WhatsApp sharing private user data to its parent company."

    Do others not worry about privacy when they text?

  5. Quote Originally Posted by Miss vivid View Post
    I don't know...I just worry about privacy concerns. I feel like my data isn't my own. Has anyone used these? It also says: "Since the messenger service was purchased by Facebook, there have been a few notable issues with WhatsApp sharing private user data to its parent company."

    Do others not worry about privacy when they text?
    I made this account solely to definitively answer this question for everyone. This is also a one-use account and so I will not be answering any follow-ups.

    To preface, I do cybersecurity work for a living. I'll provide the information regarding your concerns and have also performed exactly the types of MITM attacks gq1 mentions.

    Short answer: For the most security, ONLY use Signal and turn on the disappearing messages feature.

    Long answer:
    1) The amount of security needed really depends on what your threat model is. For most people, a simple end-to-end encryption app is more than enough because you likely aren't being directly targeted.

    2) Facebook owns Whatsapp. If you want privacy and security, STAY AS FAR AWAY FROM ANY FACEBOOK OR GOOGLE PRODUCTS/APPS AS POSSIBLE.
    Q: Why?
    A: Facebook and Google are both companies that make money mainly from advertising. If you are not paying for the product, you are the product. You have a unique advertising ID assigned to you by both of these companies that follow you throughout your entire web browsing experience. This is also how ads (via re-targeting) follow you around the web.

    3) Signal is the MOST secure in terms of the convenience/security trade-off paradigm.
    Q: How so?
    A: Any app that is not 100% Open Source as opposed to proprietary is not truly secure. This is because you cannot be certain what the app is doing if you can't see how it is achieving these claims. E.g. I have two apps named Signal and MySecureApp. Signal let's you see everything under the hood. MySecureApp uses a "Military grade AES 256 bit encryption" which sounds good but may be complete nonsense and you can't tell the difference because the workings are hidden behind a "proprietary" label.

    4) Most of these secure messaging apps are built using the protocol DEVELOPED by the Signal team. Whatsapp's protocol IS the one developed by Signal but implemented in a slightly less secure way to make the recovery of accounts easier. I.e. typically a third party is retaining your private encryption key.

    5) Security vs Convenience.
    Here's what this entire issue really boils down to. How much additional work is someone willing to go through for added security? In my experience, not much. Most people either do not have a fully educated grasp of how much privacy they regularly give away or the assumption becomes the classic "I have nothing to hide". The "I have nothing to hide" argument is a logical fallacy and certain personal details are simply better left with an element of privacy attached. If you just read that last line and thought you belonged in the "I have nothing to hide" group, I pose you a challenge. In this thread, post your First/Last name, home address, phone number, bank account #, security questions/answers, and SS# (DON"T ACTUALLY DO IT).

    Important notes for attraction forum visitors:
    Getting someone to use a secure messaging app if they aren't already adds additional friction into a situation. If someone is already using a secure messaging app, all the better but I wouldn't make this issue a barrier in the initial interaction.

    I find the best time to bring secure messaging up is a) if they already have something else installed or b) after the interaction has already progressed a bit and she wants to send something "for your eyes only"
    Side note: Even with disappearing messages on, it doesn't stop someone from taking a screenshot.

    Snapchat is another app often mentioned but is really a false "security" app in which people believe the photos are deleted but they aren't (they reside on snapchat servers) and an individual can also install other apps to take the photos without notifying the other person.

    Lastly, if you are having trouble getting numbers, when a female asks for my facebook, snapchat, etc I straight tell them that I do cybersecurity for a living and don't have them (I really don't).
    If they want to talk to me I'll give them my phone number like a normal person (and extend my open hand for their phone). If you're at the point in the interaction where they're asking for your facebook, etc, they more than likely also already have their phone out (and if they don't just hold your open palm and give them the raised eyebrow with the "duh, put your phone in my hand" look).
    I also like to take this opportunity to put myself in their phone as something unique and memorable to the situation such as "Super Hot Guy from _____" "Sexy Butt Model (your name)" or some other variation. I will also hand them my phone but put their name in ahead of time as something I want them to see such as "(her name) with the sexy butt" or something that is unique to the current situation.
    E.g. I had a conversation in which this girl and I were being flirtatious and joking that we were both terrible people. I also told her that she had a cute butt and could be my next gf except it would never work because we were both terrible people. When we exchanged numbers I put her in as "Danielle the terrible butt girlfriend", handed her the phone to put her number in, and she busted out laughing. This also makes it WAY easier to remember people because there is nothing like having twenty Sarah or Emily in your phone and not knowing who is who.

    Best of luck to everybody and I hope this answered your question

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