Tips to Improve Privacy and Security in Communication Apps

January 5, 2021

Privacy on the Internet has become one of the most relevant issues of the decade and now, more than ever worrying about the security of your digital communications and searching for what the safest messaging applications are is a must.

If you do not want the government, hackers, your ISP, or anyone else to be able to intercept and read your private messages, using secure messaging apps is your best ally, specifically, those that promise encryption.

An encrypted messaging app offers more than just widgets and emojis - it has features that run quietly in the background to keep your information safe.

We generally do not pay attention to what we are downloading, and we tend to trust the senders because they are on our contact list. Through WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger Apps, receiving malicious links and accidentally downloading some type of malware are common.

he main privacy problem originates from the excess of confidence we put on applications, becoming naive in believing that no one will want to target us. Common sense is imperative to protect ourselves when we use instant messaging programs.

Tips to improve privacy:

Do not send sensitive information -

  • One of the most important guidelines is to avoid sending sensitive information through these types of applications, taking care of documents that contain personal data or confidential information.
  • Who could access our devices, if downloaded files have any malware, or if someone else can manage your information, might not be known. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid sending or receiving important documents through these platforms. Email is more secure in these cases.

Consider that your phone number is visible -

  • When using applications like WhatsApp, we are making our phone number visible. Unless that number is from your company, do you want unknown people to have access to it?

Make our account private -

  • Today most social media platforms and messaging programs have quite a few options for setting privacy. For example, make someone other than our contacts unable to send us messages, view our profile picture, or access personal information.

Conversations are not always encrypted -

  • The most popular instant messaging programs have end-to-end encryption, but other secondary applications do not have these security measures, allowing the possible interception of your messages.

Tips to improve security:

Beware of downloaded files -

  • Typically, email providers have functions to detect potential threats and report0block files that seem dangerous.  Instant messaging programs also have tools like this, but they are not as accurate.

Use antivirus -

  • All devices must have antivirus to prevent the entry of malware. It should be borne in mind that dangerous files can arrive through instant messaging and infect computers. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the sender consciously sent you malware, but that he was previously infected and used as an anchor to spread it.

Update devices and apps -

  • Updating your devices and applications is a must. Manufacturers release patches and security updates to correct these problems.

Turn on 2-Step Verification -

  • Most instant messaging programs allow you to activate two-step verification as an extra layer of security for your accounts. If someone accesses your account by finding out your password, they will need to go through a second step (an SMS code, for example), making your account more difficult to access.

Beware of unofficial programs -

  • Some applications may have secondary versions that appear to have improvements and functions. However, if you want to preserve security and privacy, it is important to avoid installing software that is not official.

End-to-end encryption -

  • End-to-end encryption ensures that no one other than you and the person you are talking to can decrypt the messages. Ironically, in the past, encryption was believed to be something only used by the paranoid or people with a pressing need for secrecy until activist Edward Snowden leaked classified documents exposing the US NSA's (National Security Agency) global surveillance program. Since then, many companies (including Facebook, Apple, and Google) have improved their software encryption.

Open-source code -

  • Although fears of reverse engineering or code backdoors may lead to the belief that it is counterproductive for a manufacturer to disclose an application's source code, it is now widely viewed as an indicator of application integrity.
  • Open-source code allows applications to be subject to external accountability and audit by experts, drawing attention to weaknesses or vulnerabilities in the code.

Data Collecting -

  • While many messaging applications have already started using end-to-end encryption, there are still some that collect data about the user, called "metadata."
  • The metadata is something like your electronic fingerprint that includes data such as our conversation contacts, the time and at what time we interact with the app, information about the device you use, your IP address, phone number, and other aspects. Using a VPN app on your mobile device is an easy way to prevent the collection of this type of personal information.

Conclusion:

Once the above is understood, users will be able to further value their privacy and security, implement all the necessary measures to protect their information, and avoid threats. Privacy and security are rights that deserve to be protected, as well as the transmission of information.

THETA432 offers a wide range of cutting-edge services that provide effective and secure solutions so that intruders do not bypass the communication networks or applications used by your employees during their daily activities. We are sure that by choosing our services, you will have the best security within your circuits. If you need a team prepared for the work described, contact us, we will gladly help you.

Sources:

  • Jimenez, J. (2019, September 13). Security and privacy tips for instant messaging. Retrieved from: https://www.redeszone.net/tutoriales/seguridad/mensajeria-instantanea-sustituye-email-seguridad/
  • AVG. (N.A.). The best encrypted messaging apps. Retrieved from: https://www.avg.com/es/signal/secure-message-apps

Authored by
Jorge Daniel Tejeda