Secure text messaging is all the rage right now, as mobile users are becoming more aware of potential security risks inherent in standard text messaging or consumer chat apps. Various text messaging apps claim that they’re secure, but what does secure text messaging really mean?
- Data “in rest” is encrypted. That means messages stored on your phone’s database are encrypted. If someone tries to access your phone’s database to access said messages, they wouldn’t be able to read them.
- Data “in transit” is also encrypted. Encrypted messages can’t be read by anyone other than the intended recipient, even if they’re intercepted during the exchange.
- Additional encryption layers: messages are encrypted before they even leave your device.
Yet, secure texting goes beyond encryption. A secure texting app should offer additional security features such as self-destruct functionality, letting you send messages that are automatically deleted after they’re read; time limited messaging, messages are only available for a certain amount of time; forward locking, so that messages can only be sent to authorized users. Furthermore, a truly secure text messaging app means that message recipients can identify the sender and the ability to track the status of a message: when it was received, opened, etc.
Keep in mind that no app can get around physical security. If you choose not to set a passcode then someone with physical access to your phone can read your messages, or if you send photos containing sensitive subject matter with an app that disables screenshots, the end party can always circumvent that more clumsily with an ordinary camera. You might just get lucky though if the secure text messaging app you use has remote lock and wipe, in which you or app’s admin can erase data from your phone remotely. Read more about our mobile security tips.
Secure text messaging apps will never be 100% secure, and unfortunately there will be those sophisticated enough to bypass security controls no matter how “tough” they are. Those security controls, layers and additions, however, allow secure text messaging apps to prevent our own human error in making sure privileged information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. Let’s face it, the majority of security breaches aren’t a result of “evil hackers” but rather the lack of caution (or perhaps just common sense) on our part.