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Free App Allows iPhone and Android Users To Encrypt Their Conversations

Signal, developed by Open Whisper Systems, allows for greater privacy from potential hackers.

Image by Flickr user Purple Slog

You no longer have to be a tech expert to resist the surveillance of national security organtizations like the NSA—anyone who knows how to download an app fcan now resist the NSA thanks to an update from Signal, an iOS app that enables encrypted voice calling and text messaging on both ends. The app is free, easy to use, and now available for iPhone and Android users, according to Wired. With the encryption, no one but the person who is on the phone at the other end can know what you’re saying.

“The objective is to be a complete, transparent replacement for secure communications,” Moxie Marlinspike, Open Whisper Systems founder (the company that created Signal), told Wired. “We want to have a texting and calling experience that’s actually better than the default experience and is also private.”

Wired reported that prior to the development of Signal—which had been in the works for five years, according to Marlinspike—the only security app for the iPhone was Silent Circle, and it cost users, primarily corporate ones, anywhere between $13 to $40 a month.

While Apple’s own iMessage uses end-to-end encryption, too, and assures users that Apple cannot decode encrypted messages in transit, a paper by penetration testing company Quarkslab revealed the flaws in Apple’s security that could allow for spying. Unlike iMessage, Signal allows users to do a long press on the user’s contact name and check fingerprints of the receiver’s keys, in order to prevent some man-in-the-middle from intercepting and passing along messages to the intended user on the other end. iMessage doesn’t allow this option, leaving users vulnerable to outside hackers in transit, including Apple or any government agency.

“It’s possible that anyone in control of Apple’s servers could intercept your communication without you knowing it,” Marlinspike told Wired. Signal also has a feature called “perfect forward secrecy,” which changes the encryption key for each individual message so hackers would have to break in one by one, something that iMessage also lacks.

So potential revolutionaries and whistleblowers can now rest easy, knowing that their conversations won’t be bugged by the NSA thanks to Signal.

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