Contact us today!
217-428-6449

Network Solutions Unlimited Blog

How to Make Sure Your Messages are Secure

How to Make Sure Your Messages are Secure

Messaging applications have carved out a foothold in businesses, clearly proving their operational benefits. However, it simply isn’t responsible to leverage a solution without making sure that the solution is secure. There are a few criteria that you should consider to determine how secure your chosen application really is.

The Criteria
When evaluating your messaging solution, ask yourself:

  • Are my messages encrypted (and how encrypted are they)?
  • How transparent is the application to scrutiny?
  • How are messages deleted?
  • How much metadata is kept?

We’ll review why these questions are the important ones to ask.

Are my messages encrypted (and how encrypted are they)?
Encryption is a method of scrambling data so that it is incredibly difficult to interpret, accomplished through an algorithm known as an encryption key. Without going into too much detail, this makes any data that has been encrypted extremely secure.

Most major messaging applications use encryption today, but not all of them follow the most secure practices.

For instance, applications like Google Hangouts and Skype encrypt the messages that their users send… but also retain a copy of the encryption keys. This is so they can access the messages sent and collect data to power advertising. This also means that your data is left vulnerable if a cybercriminal makes their way into the application’s servers, or if the government waves a search warrant at them.

More common, fortunately, are apps that utilize end-to-end encryption, where the application only holds the keys that encrypt the data, accessible by the users. The users, on the other hand, hold the keys that decrypt the data again. As a result, not even the company hosting the messaging application can access the contents of their users’ messages, nevermind cybercriminals or law enforcement. WhatsApp and Signal are two apps that now leverage this approach. In fairness, Skype does offer this capability as well in its Private Conversation feature, but it isn’t enabled by default.

How transparent is the application to scrutiny?
Taking the developer at their word is one thing… it’s quite another for independent and impartial experts to be able to confirm the claims that are made about an application’s security. For this reason, applications based on open-source code are generally more trustworthy, as they are scrutinized by experts who discover and report any vulnerabilities.

A few applications provide their source code openly, including Signal, Telegram, and Wickr, while WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger don’t quite qualify but are based on the open-source Signal protocol.

If an application is closed-source, like iMessage is, a user is entrusting the developer completely to maintain the security of the messages sent.

How are messages deleted?
While sending a message securely is key, the security of the message once it reaches its destination should not be overlooked. After all, if someone without authorization gains access to the device later, encryption isn’t going to do squat to protect your data. However, if you are able to delete the message after it is delivered, security is suddenly much more likely.

Skype, Telegram, and Signal all allow a user to do so. In fairness, so does WhatsApp, but it needs to be deleted within 13 hours.

Some apps feature self-deleting messages, described under various names, that destroy themselves after so much time has elapsed. Signal has “disappearing messages” with a customizable time. As we have established previously, not all apps offer the same functions, and this does nothing to delete any screenshots of your message that the recipient may have taken.

How much metadata is kept?
In addition to the contents of your messages, you want to know that your chosen application is also protecting your security via the metadata it stores. Metadata can contribute to security issues through user profiling, as it includes things like the identities of both sender and recipient of a given message, when communications were made (and for how long), IP addresses, and even the kinds of devices used. In short, it can say a lot about you.

This is precisely why you want to make sure you know what data your messaging application will collect, as well as what it will preserve. This site offers a handy breakdown of many popular applications, broken down side-by-side.

Hopefully, this information will enable you to make the best choice for your business. For more assistance with your business’ security and operations, Network Solutions Unlimited has the IT solutions that you need. Call 217-428-6449 for more information.

Tip of the Week: What To Do With a Wet Smartphone
Social Media Can Cause Security Concerns
 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Wednesday, March 20 2019

Captcha Image

Mobile? Grab this Article!

QR-Code

Tag Cloud

MSP Computer Forensics Two Factor Authentication PDF Licensing Data Loss Politics SaaS VPN Mobile Security Laptop Entertainment Medical IT Files User Tips Risk Management Streaming Media Root Cause Analysis eWaste Worker Commute Testing Blockchain PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts Computer Care Computing Thank You Cortana Dark Web Cost Management Safety Hiring/Firing Managed IT Samsung Avoiding Downtime Business Intelligence Document Management Commerce Data Downtime Search Troubleshooting IT Management Social Engineering Credit Cards Small Business Financial Regulation Business Computing Monitor Gmail Wasting Time Bandwidth BDR Mobile Devices Spyware Settings Robot Monitoring Data Security Internet Exlporer Smart Technology Outlook Health Display Content Filter Office Tips Business Continuity Chromecast E-Commerce Unified Communications Training User Error Spam File Sharing Office Vulnerability Emergency Facebook Sports iPhone Black Market Gifts Internet exploMicrosoft Professional Services Smartphones Saving Time Excel Wireless Charging Public Cloud Emails Personal Information Meetings Monitors Human Resources Twitter WannaCry Hardware Analysis Data Protection Private Cloud Value Paperless Office IoT Customer Loyalty Holiday Amazon App Managed IT Service Content Filtering HBO Software Retail Company Culture Proactive IT Password Google Assistant Cybersecurity Books Encryption Apps Office 365 Managed IT Services Co-Managed Services Shadow IT WiFi hacker Benefits Audit Travel Upgrades Malware BYOD SMB Managed Service Provider Scam Identities Television Computing Infrastructure Touchscreen Virtual Assistant Government Law Enforcement Flexibility Software as a Service Wireless Technology Saving Money Security Data storage Conferencing Lifestyle Accessory Update Gadgets Router Windows Computer Fan Bring Your Own Device Windows 10 Ransomware WIndows Server 2008 Information Technology Vendor FAQ Cloud Comparison Data Management Relocation Hybrid Cloud OneNote Passwords Management Scalability Adobe Telephone Systems Smart Tech Updates App store Automobile Google Budget Hard Drive Hacking Backup Network Mobile Device Management Managed Service Cleaning USB Email iOS Virtual Reality Workplace Tips Legislation Workers Best Practice Redundancy Word Money Employer-Employee Relationship Save Money Chrome Rootkit Touchpad Experience Solid State Drive Proactive Nanotechnology How to Access Control Financial Technology IT Service Hosted Solution Identity Theft WPA3 Alexa for Business Employee Vendor Management Virtual Private Network Cloud Computing Collaboration Virtualization Communication Specifications Data Breach Physical Security Peripheral Printing Devices Shortcut Save Time Gamification Printers Utility Computing Assessment The Internet of Things Worker Networking Administration Audiobook Consultant Data Backup Keyboard Webinar Technology Connectivity Computer Projects Google Docs Hard Drives Internet Telephone Managed IT Services Productivity Communications Smartphone Data Storage IT Support Google Drive Antivirus Wi-Fi Websites Hosted Solutions IT solutions Edge Quick Tips Mobile Device Payroll Sync Server File Storage Maintenance Business Management Remote Workers Firewall HaaS IT Support Video Games Payment Cards Disaster Recovery Information Big Data Wireless Spam Blocking Automation Computer Accessories Battery Microsoft Word Business Owner Browser Miscellaneous Employer Employee Relationship Productivity Memory Techology Alert VoIP IT Services Microsoft Office Applications Privacy Sales Content Operating System Remote Monitoring Google Maps Reputation Electronic Medical Records Remote Computing Camera Employee-Employer Relationship Microsoft Excel Public Computer Windows 10s Chromebook Virus Evernote Social Media Identity Patch Management Innovation Network Security Tablets Compliance Analytics Fraud Cybercrime Machine Learning Windows 10 Language Transportation Tech Term Device Security Cache How To IT Solutions Hackers Going Green Work/Life Balance Unified Threat Management Screen Mirroring Tech Support Windows 7 Managing Stress Admin Education Storage IT budget Internet of Things Windows Ink Hyperlink Cast Data Recovery intranet Humor Marketing Computers Unsupported Software Mobility Business Technology Break/Fix Application Charger Ciminal Tip of the Week HIPAA Android CrashOverride Phishing End of Support Augmented Reality Bluetooth Apple Legal Wireless Internet Students Congratulations Security Cameras Users History Microsoft Advertising Artificial Intelligence Outsourced IT Upgrade Instant Messaging Efficiency Colocation Two-factor Authentication Best Practices Phone System Hard Disk Drive Project Management Data Privacy Mobile NFL Recovery Wasting Money Data Theft Backup and Disaster Recovery Business