Three people enter a bar at 9 pm, talk for about three hours, meet three other people and say goodbye with the intention of keeping in touch in the future. If we imagine that the bar is like a messaging application, if it were WhatsApp, nobody would know what everyone was talking about, but if It would be known who spoke to whom, when, how many times, for how long, the names they used, if they had spoken before, if they belong to the same groups, their phone numbers, and who else they all know.
If the bar was Signal, the only thing that would be known is when someone entered and when they left. It would not be known how many times he did it, or with whom he spoke, or who he knows, or if they met, or what they looked like, or if they had seen each other before, or who paid or what he did it with.
How to improve INTERNET SECURITY: VPN, DNS and pages with HTTPS
When encryption is not the same as privacy
While WhatsApp took a big step by adding end-to-end encryption to the app’s conversations, curiously using the same encryption protocol as Signal, we cannot confuse the fact that Facebook cannot read our chats with a real idea of privacy.
Not only what we write in a chat is valuable information, and in the case of WhatsApp that is the only information that is encrypted. There is another pile of data associated with a user that WhatsApp does know, store and use to a greater or lesser extent: metadata.
Apple itself tries to expose it in the App Store with its new privacy labels, a measure that Facebook is protesting talking about small businesses and advertising, a very different conversation than It has little to do with our privacy and a lot to do with the economic interests of each company.
Leaving that issue aside, and seeing how the popularity of Signal is living an important moment after being recommended by certain figures controversial, it’s a good time to remember the big difference between using something like WhatsApp versus something like Signal, even though both encrypt our messages, even if they use the same protocol to do it.
How Signal Minimizes the Amount of Data It Retains About Its Users
If the only thing that worries you is the privacy of the content of your messages, the same folks at Signal say that WhatsApp is a great choice in that case. Only the content of your messages.
If you want more, Signal offers more. Due to the way the service is designed, The application does not store any record of your contacts, your conversation list, your location, photo and profile name, or information about the groups to which you belong.
In addition to this Signal introduced a couple of years ago, a technology they call Sealed sender, designed basically to hide another important part of the metadata: who is sending messages to whom.
In the past, when they have been forced to hand over data to the United States government, the only data that existed was the user account creation date and the last time the user logged in, because Signal doesn’t store anything else.
Signal applies the same philosophy to all user data as to the content of your messages. Facebook includes trackers and analytics software that it uses to create a whole “social graph” of you when you use its applications, it does not need much to know what you say in your chats, when there is so much other information that says much more about you.