Signal and WhatsApp, two titans in the realm of secure communication, both employ end-to-end encryption to safeguard messages. This method obscures messages so only the sender and recipient can decipher them, effectively barricading the conversation from external eyes, including the developers of the app themselves.
The digital community often lauds Signal for its heightened privacy and security compared to WhatsApp. This sentiment leads us to regularly endorse Signal as the pinnacle of private messaging. But what fuels this belief? How do Signal and WhatsApp stack up against each other? Let’s delve into a comprehensive comparison.
Does Signal Trump WhatsApp in Safety?
Both Signal and WhatsApp utilize the encryption protocol crafted by Open Whisper Systems. This protocol, being open-source and subjected to extensive peer evaluation, earns high marks for reliability. Despite their shared encryption foundation, Signal boasts a few security advantages over WhatsApp:
When transmitting a message or image, metadata, or data about the data, accompanies it. This includes recipient details, delivery timestamps, and more. While message content remains shielded by end-to-end encryption, this metadata does not. Imagine encryption as a secure container; metadata is akin to the shipping label attached to it. Even without unlocking the container, the label reveals much.
WhatsApp, in contrast to Signal, does not shield metadata. Consequently, third parties might glean information from these messages. Signal, however, employs a feature known as Sealed Sender to obscure sender and recipient data, rendering even the metaphorical “shipping label” indecipherable.
Read More: Metadata Digital Privacy
Beyond messages and metadata, messaging apps can accumulate data from your device, such as your contact list, profile picture, whereabouts, media files, and device specifics. Here, the disparity between WhatsApp and Signal becomes stark.
Signal, however, belongs to the Signal Technology Foundation, a non-profit steered by user contributions. One of its founders, Moxie Marlinspike, a former head of cybersecurity at Twitter, developed the encryption protocol used by Signal, later incorporated into widespread messaging apps like WhatsApp, Skype, and Facebook Messenger.
The Superior Secure Messaging App
In the faceoff between WhatsApp and Signal, Signal emerges as the more secure option. Both might use end-to-end encryption, but Signal extends its protection to metadata and refrains from sharing user data with third parties. Being a privately owned, non-profit entity, Signal is poised to remain a bastion of security.
This isn’t to suggest abandoning WhatsApp altogether. Its end-to-end encryption still stands as a robust privacy shield.
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Frequently Asked Questions: Signal vs. WhatsApp
It depends on your needs. While Signal excels in privacy, WhatsApp may have other advantages. For instance, Signal has 20 million monthly users, whereas WhatsApp boasts around 2 billion, making it more likely for you to connect with friends on WhatsApp.
Yes, Signal does a more effective job in safeguarding user metadata and doesn't share your data with third parties, unlike WhatsApp.
Both services employ the Signal protocol for end-to-end encryption, developed by the Signal Foundation.
WhatsApp collects and shares a wide array of information including phone numbers, device IDs, user identifiers, location, transaction data, and product interaction. Signal, on the other hand, stores phone numbers and uses device IDs and user identifiers for transmission without storing them.