There are a ton of messaging services available for users. There’s Google Hangouts, Facebook’s Messenger, WhatsApp, and of course Apple’s iMessage. Which one is the most secure, though?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit digital rights group, has researched the various security measures behind some of the most popular messaging services and has deemed Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime to be the most secure out of the bunch.
The foundation created a Secure Messaging Scorecard and graded each messaging service based on seven different criteria. Those criteria are as follows:
- Is a message encrypted in transit?
- Is it encrypted so the provider is unable to read it?
- Can you verify contacts’ identities?
- Are past communications secure if keys are stolen?
- Is the code open to independent review?
- Is security design properly documented?
- Has the code been audited?
Messaging services like CryptoCat, ChatSecure, Signal, Silent Text, and TextSecure all had perfect scores, but out of the major messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Yahoo Messenger, Kik, and iMessage, iMessage came out on top, fulfilling five out of the seven criteria, while Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts only scored two.
The worst scoring messaging platforms on the list? Mxit, QQ, AIM, BlackBerry Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and Kik.
The only two factors that iMessage and FaceTime didn’t score well in is inability to verify contacts’ identities and the code isn’t open to independent review. Other than that, though, both iMessage and FaceTime scored rather well compared to other popular messaging platforms, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation said that iMessage and FaceTime are the “best of the mass-market options” when it comes to security, which isn’t too much of a surprise since Apple puts a lot of focus on user privacy.
Of course, security on iMessage is a whole other ballgame compared to the platform’s problems that keeps users frustrated. It seems we’re never without problems in iMessage, but luckily there are ways to fix them without waiting for a patch from Apple.
Perhaps one of the biggest problems with iMessage that we’ve seen is when iPhone users switch to Android, leaving their phone number essentially trapped with iMessage.
Users have reported that even when officially making the switch to Android, phone numbers still remain associated with iMessage, and any time someone with an iPhone texts that number, they’d get a “Delivered” receipt in iMessage, but would receive nothing.
This is obviously a huge problem, and Apple knows about the issue, but doesn’t have a solid fix yet. However, many users have come forward with fixes of their own that have worked when switching away from iPhone, and this issue has been around for years, so there are numerous threads on Apple’s support forums talking about this issue, and it turns out Apple has its own support page about the issue.
For now, the only fix seems to be turning off iMessage before you switch away from iPhone, but it’s a tough road for those who already made the switch over the Android without turning off iMessage.
But at least the security of iMessage is pretty good, right?