How and Why to Encrypt Your Text Messages

Hello there! From time to time we at the business desk are pleased to bring
you an article of interest and for this week we have a great one for you!
We now invite you to read on!
The Sterling Creations team


A Dan Thompson contribution
How and Why to Encrypt Your Text Messages

Source page for article:

With the NSA peerinNSA seeks to build quantum computer that could crack most
types of encryption – The Washington Postactivg into everyone’s pockets
without permission, nosy siblings snooping through your message history
while you’re away, and there has never been a better time to start
encrypting your text messages than there is today.

As we’ll explain in this article, encrypted texting isn’t always necessary,
but it can still be a welcome safeguard for whenever you, your family, or
business partners need to communicate sensitive information from one side of
the globe to the other.

Why Should I Encrypt?

“But what if I have nothing to hide?” is a common response you might get
from some people when discussing the news of the NSA spying programs.

“Why should I encrypt my texts” is another that usually follows closely
behind, and my answer is almost always the same: according to a cache of
PowerPoint slides released by one Edward Snowden, it seems the NSA has been
actively hunting down encryption
efforts for years, and exterminating any cryptography which could pose a
threat to its ability to read our texts, track our calls, and rifle through
our private emails.

Read more on their efforts here:

NSA seeks to build quantum computer that could crack most types of
encryption – The Washington Post

In the same set of slides, the world learned also learned that the only
reason encryption is breakable right now is because such a small percentage
of the population currently employ any sort of extra layer of security to
protect their communications.

The idea behind using these apps or services is that as more people begin
encrypting their messages, we can not only make the job of the NSA a bit
more difficult, we can also be sure that no other third-party is able to
crack the code of private conversations. Text encryption is perfect for
high-level discussion of enterprise products coming to market, exchanging
files containing private financial data, or sending personal family
information you wouldn’t want getting out in the world. Not only that, but
it also carries the unique benefit of ensuring none of the messages you send
or receive will be used for advertising or marketing purposes, like you
might find in competing products from WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

So, with so many varied benefits to encrypting texts, maybe the question
shouldn’t be “why should I encrypt my texts,” but “why wouldn’t I?”


For years, Apple has maintained the gold standard in industry-wide
encryption through its iMessage service, which has throughout its history
continued to act as a
thorn in the side of law enforcement officials and
rogue government agencies alike.


Read more here:

US DEA upset it can’t break Apple’s iMessage encryption

The details of how iMessage’s unique encryption algorithm actually works are
a bit too confusing and convoluted to explain in full here, however if
you’re interested you can read through the technical descriptions on page 35
of the
company’s own security brief from earlier this year.

Even without trawling through the details of that PDF, the proof of Apple’s
privacy pedigree is in the pudding. Apple was one of the six major tech
firms that
wrote a stern letter to
the United States House of Representatives condemning the actions of the NSA
after the Snowden leaks first hit the wires,

Read this letter here:

and the Cupertino-based smartphone maker has since continued to stand up for
the privacy rights of its individual users when
threatened with legal action to unlock
the iPhones of suspected criminals.

With all that in mind, it’s clear the company is dedicated to keeping
people’s text messages where they belong: in their own possession, free from
the prying eyes of anyone


But what if you’re on Android and want the same feeling of security that iOS
users enjoy? With the TextSecure app from OpenWhisper systems, you can
encrypt both your calls and your SMS messages from one app, without worrying
about a complicated setup process, using separate logins, or even removing
your profile from your phone first.


TextSecure’s protective protocol works by transforming what would normally
travel as a normal SMS/MMS packet into raw data, and then running that
altered binary through OpenWhisper’s open source encryption algorithm to
ensure your communications are locked down as tight as possible.


Not only that, but OpenWhisper has also developed an app for the iTunes
ecosystem called Signal. Signal works in much the same fashion as iMessage,
except now you can actually send encrypted data to Android phones either
through MMS or SMS instantaneously. Signal will also work with a simple
iPhone-to-iPhone transaction, so if you prefer the Signal UI over iMessage
for any reason, it’s still a viable and secure alternative.

You can download TextSecure from Google Play for free


or the Signal app from the iTunes App Store



Lastly, if you’re one of the millions who ditched your iPhone for a Samsung
Galaxy in the past few years, you’ll have access to the new Knox messaging
platform available on compatible Android devices.

What makes Knox different from software-side encryption solutions like
Signal or iMessage is unlike either of those messengers, Knox texting is
protected by a physical cryptography chip installed on the phone itself. By
running the Knox platform inside its own, protected hardware sandbox, you
can be certain that the calls, emails, or messages coming in or out of the
phone are completely separated from any identifying information tied to the
phone itself.


One limitation of Knox is that it works like iMessage, in that you will only
be fully encrypted when communicating with another Knox device which is
already running the same firmware as you. Even so, if the privacy-conscious
OS has passed the vetting process to be
good enough for the US
Department of Defense,

you can be sure it’s good enough for you and your friends too.

All the most recent iterations of both Galaxy S and Galaxy Note phones are
Knox-ready right out of the box, while
the full
list of compatible phones and phablets can be found here.


In an era of eavesdropping smartphones, public Facebook profiles, and
massive international spying operations run amok, it could feel like the
days of personal privacy could be coming to an end. But there’s still a way
to fight back, and the best place to start is by locking up all your
communications behind a safe, secure, and secretive wall of encrypted
texting apps.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.