Best secure mobile messaging apps - G Data Secure Chat
Built on Whisper Systems’ open source Axolotl protocol (see above), the recently-launched Secure Chat is a well-designed free app with the drawback of being Android only for the time being. Despite its open source underpinnings, the app won’t operate securely with anything other than another Secure Chat app at the other end.
The app sets out to replace your existing messaging and texting apps, offering to import and encrypt existing messaging data for safe keeping. As with Signal, enrolling users (including in groups) happens by firing up the app and performing number verification for each account. One feature we liked about the app was the simple way users could switch between secure chat (free messaging across secure infrastructure), secure SMS (across carrier infrastructure at the user’s cost) and insecure SMS. Conventional phone calls can also be launched from inside the app – this really does aim to replace the communication functions in one go although it can also be used more occasionally for the odd message if that is preferable.
So that receivers can be sure that a message comes from the genuine contact, the app provides a QR ‘verify identity’ code which the other contact can scan (they san yours, you scan theirs). What happens if the users are far apart from one another? We’re not sure.
The app blocks screen scraping by external apps and can be secured behind a password. One interesting feature is self-destructing messages activated by clicking a small icon on the composition screen, which open on the receiver’s phone with a countdown timer of up to 6- seconds after which each is deleted. The user can also have hidden contacts that are accessed with a password.
Security: Not disclosed but will be similar to Signal, Germany-based servers
Pro: incredibly easy to set up and use – very similar to Signal but lacks the voice support that has now been added to that product
Con: none really although this is oriented towards messaging only