Big Brother is watching

August 19, 2014

How confident are you that your messages aren’t being read by someone else?

People nowadays are communicating in various ways online. Text messaging (SMS) used to be the only option a couple of years back, until online messaging took over. Today, I barely know anyone who still uses SMS. You already have worthy and better-performing alternatives such as WhatsApp or BlackBerry Messenger, but in the days where government spying and online hacking are a common occurrence, you privacy isn’t that guaranteed anymore.

Even social networks like Facebook and Twitter have their own messaging platforms, though it’s pretty much standard and does not actually guarantee a hacker-proof environment. You may say I’m being paranoid about my personal messages, but that’s the point: you don’t know that you may be sharing some sensitive information online and someone else is seeing it. And when all hell breaks loose, it will be too late.

Fortunately, some companies have started making apps that offer a level of encryption so that you can be certain the messages you send are secure. Some even went for a more direct approach, which lets you view the message but it will be gone in a specific amount of time. Check out our list of some recommended apps that take your privacy seriously.

“This message will self-destruct in 5 seconds…”

Secure messaging apps are pretty much straight forward messaging clients, the only difference is that they have an added layer of security when sending messages. Only time will tell how secure these apps are, but I love how dedicated they are in ensuring your privacy.

1. BBM Protect – Okay so BBM is already secure, but as we have reported earlier, BlackBerry is looking to bring BBM Protect to other devices soon. The already-secure messaging platform will add another layer of encryption to ensure that your messages aren’t compromised. The service is available as an enterprise solution, though won’t be surprised if it makes it way to normal consumers soon. It isn’t free though, and will cost $30 per device for an annual subscription.

2. Telegram – Telegram is pretty much a more secure version of WhatsApp. Like WhatsApp, you can basically send any file across any user in your contact list and even create groups for up to 200 people. What sets it different is that its cloud-based encryption ensure that you can access your messages on any platform that you are using, and it is still ‘heavily secure.’ You can download literally Telegram on any platform: Android, iOS, Windows Phone (Beta), Web, Mac OS X and Windows (Beta). The best part? It’s completely free.

3. TextSecure – Available exclusively for free on Android, TextSecure can take over your default SMS app and simply start sending messages to your friends securely. It uses and end-to-end encryption protocol that encrypts every message that is sent. It’s initially available only for Android smartphones, but a tablet version should be available soon.

4. Gliph – This app is pretty much a standard messaging app, but the added security makes sure no one snoops on your messages. Additionally, it also supports Bitcoin, meaning you can make payments from within the app itself. Features like group and multiple platform messaging is supported. You can download Gliph for Android and iOS and yes, it’s also free.

5. Hemlis Messenger – Currently in development, Hemlis Messenger goes for a more simple approach to secure messaging. They control their own messaging server and only them who will have access to it, ensuring you that all your messages are private. The app will be available on iOS and Android devices soon and will be free along with an in-app purchase to unlock certain features. Oh and a nice trivia, ‘Hemlis’ means ‘Secret’ in Swedish.

Self-destruct apps like Snapchat have started gaining some traction thanks to its ‘self-destruct’ mode, which lets you assign a specific time when the message disappears from the recipients device or simply make the message vanish after they have read it. It’s a cool concept, and at least you are aware that your messages are not saved in any way, shape or form. Here are our top picks:

1. Wickr – The catchy name of this particular messaging app comes with the tagline ‘Escape the Internet’ – though I’m still thinking what it actually means. Wickr lets you send messages to any of your contacts, and the standard smileys and stickers are present. No metadata like location details are saved and you can easily shred or auto-delete your messages after a specific amount of time. Wickr is available for free on Android and iOS.

2. Confide – This messaging app instantly destroys your messages after it is read by the recipient. It also lets you send messages by using an email or phone number. Off the record messaging is the app’s goal and it somehow presents it the right way. Even if you try to take a screenshot of the conversation, Confide makes you aware of it. Download it for free on Android and iOS.

3. Frankly – This app comes with the tagline ‘gossip with your friends without getting caught!’. And it somehow proves true when you look at the app’s features. You can send text, images or even video and a tap will reveal the contents of the message. The good thing about it? You can unsend messages just in case you regret sending in that image of you getting wasted last weekend. Available for free on Android and iOS.

4. Ansa – Ansa is a more straightforward self-destruct messaging app. The interface is clean with no bells and whistles. You can communicate the proper way or you can set the chat off the record, which doesn’t save any information about the message. You also have the option to automatically delete the message after a specific amount of time. Get it on Android an iOS.

5. Cyberdust – This may be the app that combines all of the features of all the apps mentioned above. It provides encrypted messaging, and the ability to automatically erase the message you have sent after 30 seconds. There is also a screenshot detection feature, and yes, it is also free for Android and iOS users.

Hopefully this article would help you make your conversations more secure. Think we missed something? Let us know in the comments!

by Victor Philip Ortiz
Tech Enthusiast and Movie Buff. When he’s not busy playing with the latest games, Victor usually spends his time collecting Blu-rays and building his own movie library. As the Online Editor for T3 Middle East, he develops and writes content for which includes reviews, features, and videos in addition to managing its social media and web content.