Signal vs Telegram vs WhatsApp: Which One is More Secure?

Competenza Innovare
7 min readMay 9, 2023

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The best chat app would allow you to send texts, share photos, make calls, video conference, and other packed features. WhatsApp was once considered and most preferred with about 2 billion monthly active users. However, numbers do not always tell you the entire story, with a comprehensive comparison of security and privacy with other apps, WhatsApp lagged with updates in their policy. No surprise, recently users have experienced security concerns, spam has begun, malware threads, and much more.

WhatsApp has been alleged in the witness box with a constant influx of features for its security feature and reliability. Under certain circumstances, multiple people can breach your privacy policy, and your end-to-end encrypted messages are no more ‘private’.

Have you ever been scrambled with advertisements of products showing up in social media feeds that you recently gossiped with your friend in chat? The ad pops up on your Instagram feed, Facebook posts about the product you wished to buy and you thought it was just a modern urban myth or coincidence. But Big tech companies are looking for creative loopholes to use up your data, whether it be Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, or others.

WhatsApp and Signal have been accessed by billions of customers monthly. The apps have penetrated deep inside the strong market of the US as well as other countries. It is considered a prominent element of daily social diet and the most popular social media app worldwide.

WhatsApp has been promising end-to-end encryption and high security since its inception. But since the last few years, it has been baited for its security and privacy issues.

Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, and users were astonished and worried about their privacy issues. Still, it’s a question for many about how much data is flowing between the two platforms. Most of them experienced a shocking awakening this week; the app unlocked the mystery about step WhatsApp grasps to share more with Facebook in 2016.

In January 2021, there was a pop-up mentioning the update about its terms of use and privacy policy, basically extending its practices around business users about how they can store their communication. As on February 8, WhatsApp upgraded the privacy policy, and users must accept these terms to continue using the application. WhatsApp removed a passage where it mentioned sharing data with Facebook enhancing Facebook ads and product experiences. In haste, users started peeking for other messaging apps that ensure safety while remaining private and secure.

WhatsApp has been sharing information about its majority of users to Facebook Since 2016 when there was an update to its privacy policy. In the wake of the policy update in recent times, high-profile social media users denounced WhatsApp and began using alternatives like Signal and Telegram. A notable notification from Elon Musk with above 138 million followers tweeted to Use Signal due to privacy issues.

Signal and Telegram witnessed a surge in downloads with more than 100,000 users across Google and Apple app stores in that week. However, WhatsApp fell by 11% in the first week of January 2021, reaching 10.5 million globally. The Signal did not expect the sudden influx of users and notified that the verification code to create new accounts is slowed down due to the rise in demand.

Telegram vs WhatsApp vs Signal

Though there is no shortage or limitation of messaging services available, if privacy and security are major issues, criteria are narrowed down. Using communication apps is pretty, but insecure options are quite worrisome. Communication apps are easily intercepted and passed through a middleman, and there is a scope for invasion of privacy. Let’s look at the prominent players, WhatsApp vs Signal vs Telegram, which is better in terms of security.

Each holds its pros and cons, benefits and drawbacks, with different terms and conditions, but one major thing about them is encryption. Encryption is a way of scrambling data, and only authorized parties can decode it and understand the information. It is the process of converting simple text into incomprehensive text. They cannot be intercepted easily; a cryptography expert can decrypt them.

As each platform has different offers in different areas, we will dive in and take a keen observation of each aspect of privacy and security that you might need to know.

WhatsApp

Collaborated with Facebook, WhatsApp already had many security and privacy issues and it’s likely enough for many users to drawback using WhatsApp. Many users avoided Facebook as it was rumored that the messaging tool would not share any personal data collected. Now, when WhatsApp mentioned in a clear perspective that their data would be shared with Facebook, it’s up to you, if you swung around WhatsApp or choose or drop the idea and switch to another app.

In 2014, WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook for approximately US$19.3 billion.

WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption, and you need to check if it’s enabled at your end and with the people you chat with. WhatsApp mentions that it does not store any messages on the server, but they can be retained for 30 days until the recipient reclaims them.

Unlike Facebook, even WhatsApp is free from ads, and it is rumored and confirmed that ads would start to appear in WhatsApp statuses in 2020.

WhatsApp’s downloads declined by 35% from 5.2 million to 1.3 million.

WhatsApp uses the highly praised encryption protocol and encrypts every text and message by default.

Telegram

A telegram is a cross-platform tool available for Android, Windows, Mac, iOS, and Linux. The platform uses the MTProto encryption protocol, but it doesn’t work in the same way. There is a bulk of messages stored on cloud servers and encrypted on servers. Telegram’s additional layer in secret chats offers client-to-client encryption that any other device recovers cant beyond the sender and receiver. Simply, if you send a message through a secret chat, it is encrypted, and the receiver can decrypt it.

In response to WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, 25 million new users joined Telegram within 72 hours alone.

Telegram is criticized for its lack of transparency no matter how much they assure encryption protocol. The end-to-end encryption is not enabled by default, you need to opt for a secret mode to be sure nothing goes off the way, and no one else taps into your communication. Beyond these caveats, Telegram is impressive in most features like chat backups and disappearing messages.

Telegram is not secure as the brand’s marketing campaign or policy; mentions that might lead you to believe. As per interviews with leading encryption and security experts, the app doesn’t meet its proclamations regarding safe and secure messaging features. Telegram does not use end-to-end encryption as it is advocated for.

Telegram copies your address book to the server and does not thoroughly encrypt all metadata. Telegram supports up to 200,000 group messaging, which is hard to imagine in the scenario. There are a lot of public and private channels and an unlimited number of subscribers. With lots of advantages and flaws, the app is still opted for by most users.

If ads are your concern, then Telegram is a good choice as it does not make money through advertising as noted in the FAQ. Pavel Durov supplied Telegram with a substantial donation that they don’t need supportive funds for the time being.

Signal

The Signal is considered the most secure messaging, voice, and video conferencing platform with end-to-end encryption. Signal USP is highly focused on privacy. Its source code is peer-reviewed, and independent experts frequently inspect security and privacy. The biggest strength of the platform is its privacy: it encrypts calls, texts, gifs, group calls, and everything. However, the flaw it carries is its backup and restore mechanism is not up to mark. In case you switch phones, you need to follow convoluted steps to transfer your chats to new devices.

Between 6 Jan to 10 Jan, 2.3 million people downloaded Signal app in India.

The Signal is the most secure messaging app considered right now. Beyond Elon Musk, Edward Snowden also recommended Signal due to its end-to-end inception, which makes it extremely difficult to spy on conversations. It uses a second password to log in to new devices with biometric authentication and much more to enhance security features.

In privacy terms, Signal is better than WhatsApp. The platform’s primary goal is to provide you with a source where you can communicate without being spied on.

Final Verdict

The WhatsApp privacy issue has been popping up everywhere, declaring its intention to use your data for advertising. It has been a major concern for users. It depends upon the users whether they are comfortable using WhatsApp with end-to-end encrypted features despite its some drawbacks of sharing data with Facebook or want to opt for alternative Telegram. However, those, unlike Telegram, hold some drawbacks, a company already infamous for decoding users’ data and tons of messages stored on its server.

Source: — This article is originally published on The Competenza Blog.

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Competenza Innovare

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