Which is the more secure app?

Which is the more secure app?

  • WhatsApp and Signal both have end-to-end encryption for voice, video and text calls.
  • While Signal hides the metadata of the encrypted messages, WhatsApp does not.
  • Signal is also arguably safer because the app is owned by a non-profit organization; WhatsApp is owned by Meta.

WhatsApp has many competitors. Apps like Signal, Telegram and Threema, for example, offer similar features and capabilities, and Signal in particular is often compared to WhatsApp side-by-side because they both include end-to-end encryption. Which of these two messaging services is better? What is safer and more secure? Read on for a head-to-head comparison of Signal versus WhatsApp.

Signal vs. WhatsApp: Which app uses better encryption?

As it happens, WhatsApp and Signal use the same encryption technologies. Both apps implement an open-source encryption engine developed by Open Whisper Systems, and these apps offer full end-to-end encryption for voice, video, and text chats. This means that the data is fully encrypted when it leaves your mobile device and is not decrypted until it reaches the recipient’s device. The service you use – Signal or WhatsApp – does not have the ability to decrypt or read any part of your messages in transit.

The WhatsApp and Signal apps side by side.

As voice, video and text messaging apps, WhatsApp and Signal have many similarities.

Dave Johnson



Signal vs. WhatsApp: Which app is safer?

There’s more to your overall security than just the encryption, and it pays to compare some other aspects of WhatsApp and Signal.

Collection of personal data

Messaging apps often have the ability to collect information about you based on information available on your mobile device. For example, your app can know your name, phone number, location, data usage habits and much more. If you allow address book sharing, it may also collect details about your friends and other contacts.

WhatsApp and Signal have different approaches to this amount of information. Based on the published privacy policy, Meta WhatsApp allows access to data collected by other Meta apps and services, and this data can be sold to other entities or used to customize and improve the services offered. However, Signal is owned by the Signal Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. That means Signal has no profit incentive to collect or sell your personal data and only collects your phone number for device verification.

Device security

End-to-end encryption is important, but it doesn’t matter if someone gets physical access to your phone and can unlock it (or they get it unlocked). Fortunately, both WhatsApp and Signal can be protected with an additional password or biometric lock, which can keep unauthorized users out of your messages.

Metadata Protection

While both of these apps mask the content of your communication using end-to-end encryption, your message’s metadata is not included in that encryption. Metadata includes the sender and recipient as well as the time and date the message was sent. Like most messaging apps, WhatsApp doesn’t make an effort to hide the metadata, but Signal hides the metadata so that it’s impossible to extract any meaningful information from an encrypted Signal message.

Own

WhatsApp is owned by Meta, the parent company that also owns Facebook and Instagram. While opinions about Meta vary, there is no doubt that Meta is a for-profit company that collects and sells user data. As mentioned, Signal is owned by a non-profit organisation.

Insider’s takeaway

Both WhatsApp and Signal have a lot to offer when it comes to communication features. They have voice, video and text chat and support group calls as well. Both use the same encryption technology, but based on a number of other factors, such as business ownership and data handling, Signal is moderately more reliable if safety and security are your top priorities.

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