Messenger Signal was released a long time ago, but since January, the application’s popularity has skyrocketed. Millions of former users of WhatsApp and other apps are migrating to it. It is also compared to Telegram. We figured out the messenger’s history and its features, data encryption, pros and cons relative to competitors.

“Fall” WhatsApp

In early January 2021, WhatsApp announced a privacy policy update. From February 8, the app was supposed to transfer user data to its parent company Facebook officially. The list included phone numbers of the users themselves, address books, status data, names and profile pictures, information from other applications, location, dates and shopping lists, and more.

This official impudence angered millions of messenger users, and they began to go to competitors en masse. Often the choice fell on the main character of the material – the Signal messenger. Millions went to Telegram too. In just one week in January, Signal recorded an influx of almost 9 million people. The telegram reported 11 million or more.

WhatsApp changed dramatically. Its representatives said that they would not transmit any data to Facebook, and the update of the privacy policy is postponed to May 15 and with major changes. But it only made things worse, and users continue to “run” from the application. Tens of millions are nothing compared to two billion – that is how much the popular messenger had in February 2020. Therefore, there was no real fall. But this gave a tangible impetus to competitors, mostly known only in narrow circles of Signal.

Takeoff Signal

Signal belongs to a non-profit foundation of the same name, has been created since 2013 and is open source. The money for the development of the app comes from private donations. You can help here… You can download the messenger by this link.

Before the popularity of the masses, the application was used by people with an increased need for privacy: activists, members of oppositions from different countries, politicians, journalists, and so on.

Signal: features of the messenger praised by Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey

Signal was praised by Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk and Edward Snowden. The latter has been using the messenger since 2015 and assures that even the FBI is not available to his correspondence.

A feature of the messenger is encrypted device-to-device messages (E2EE). This means that no one except the participants in the conversation has access to information. Even the developers can’t read the correspondence. The messenger does not collect user data and does not display ads.

Signal: features of the messenger praised by Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey

Signal Features

The signal is a classic messenger. The program allows you to write messages, create single and group chats (up to 1000 participants maximum), call up by voice or video call (up to 8 users simultaneously), exchange photos, emoji and videos, share location and contacts. The application can be used instead of the standard one for SMS.

Additional features include sending photos and videos, which disappear a couple of seconds after reading. Signal also knows how to check and confirm the user’s contacts so that everyone always knows for sure that they are texting with this person, and not a fraudster. To do this, the application sometimes asks for the PIN code set during registration or allows the interlocutors to exchange QR codes.

All correspondence in the program, including video calls, calls, transferred files, etc., is always encrypted and hidden by strong E2EE encryption. This means that the above data is stored not on the messenger’s servers, but users’ devices. Therefore, even the developers of the application do not have access to them.

The messenger has its own Signal Protocol. It encrypts all types of information exchange, except for classic SMS. And then only those that are sent to contacts not registered in the messenger.

Use and registration

The app uses the phone number as a universal identifier. It is indicated during registration, and then the application requests access to the list of contacts, which are scanned for already-registered users. If desired, it is allowed not to grant the program access to communications. But then you will always have to search for existing and new users by manually entering their phone numbers.

When you install the messenger on another smartphone or change the number, correspondence, files and other data are lost. After all, the application stores this on the device and does not sync with the servers. You have to pay for complete confidentiality with such inconveniences.

The messenger works on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iPhone and iPad. For security reasons, there is no web client, only the application. Under one number, the messenger can be installed on five devices simultaneously. But among these gadgets, there cannot be two smartphones at once. Restrictions are made for the same security.

When using Signal as an SMS and MMS app, it will show unsecured messages. That is those contacts that do not have a messenger. If desired, they can throw off the encrypted link to download the application.

Signal and Telegram

The signal is often compared to the popular Telegram. But these two messengers have a lot of differences. In some ways, the first is better, and somewhere the second. Signal beats Telegram in data encryption. Pavel Durov’s messenger has E2E protection. But it does not work everywhere and is turned on by hand only in secret chats with two users. In all other cases, the data is also protected but goes through the Telegram server, which means it can be hacked.

Through them, Telegram conveniently synchronizes correspondence between user devices, but this is another security minus. All Signal data is stored encrypted only on gadgets. And this reduces the chance of hacking because hackers will have to go not only through a smartphone or PC, but also to deal with the proprietary Signal Protocol encryption. It is considered stronger than the Telegram cipher, which has already been cracked once. But that doesn’t mean Signal will never be hacked.

Signal and Telegram source codes are publicly available. But in the latter case, the server codes have not been made public, which means that no one can say exactly what is happening with Telegram users’ data.

Telegram is better to use. It has a nicer and more rational interface. Chats can change the background, and there are tons of stickers and an extended About Me field. This is not the Signal case, but the creators promise to make the messenger more pleasant for users soon.

Telegram allows you to share files up to 2 GB, while Signal has this limit of 100 MB. Telegram group chat accommodates up to 200 thousand users, and the Signal number is only 1000 people. Thus, Signal will not become the powerful new media platform for bloggers and media like Telegram.

Telegram has useful bots for every colour, taste, and need. The signal does not have them and is unlikely to be because to create them, and you will have to get access to user correspondence.

What messenger do you use? Is privacy important to you and can apps provide it? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments.

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