Activating end-to-end encryption for calls and messages might seem a little extreme for private citizens. But with digital liberty under attack, tech companies cooperating with spy agencies, and cyber attacks big and small affecting thousands every day, it behooves everyone to take privacy seriously.
Signal, a secure app from Open Whisper Systems, is a blend of the encrypted RedPhone VoIP app and TextSecure SMS app, both from Whisper Systems, which was bought and dismantled by Twitter in 2011. Whisper Systems co-founder Moxie Marlinspike then built Open Whisper Systems using software from his former company that fell under free software licenses after the Twitter acquisition went through.
Recently, Signal received a boost in cash and engineering power. WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton joined the company and brought $50 million with him, which will go toward increasing the number of employees (for a company that maxed out at seven) and building new technologies.
The Signal app, available on iOS and Android, can send messages and make calls when both parties are connected to the internet. Though it has had some competition from WhatsApp and Telegram, its reputation for security has made it indispensable to many, particularly those who live under governments that censor and monitor citizens (not to mention those who use it and other chat apps for more nefarious purposes).
Signal for Android was updated to bypass censors in places where the app has been banned by deploying domain fronting, which uses one domain on the outside of an HTTPS request and another within.
Regardless of whether you need such robust privacy features, using a secure app is a smart choice. Here are some ways to make it work for you.