To see if these apps are really different from each other, ESET conducted a survey that took into account the amount of deleted data, encryption solution used, and the use of two-step data protection. In addition, the possibility of programming messages to self-destruct after a certain time, erasing the traces left by them, was analyzed.
WhatsApp is the most complete in terms of features, but the most worrying in terms of privacy. Besides sharing several data with Facebook (which uses them to display advertisements), the communicator has a message destruction system that only works after seven days.
In its favor, the app has end-to-end encryption for messages (which does not apply to metadata) and PIN and fingerprint protection systems that are also seen in others. Telegram collects less data, but reserves end-to-end encryption only for messages sent secretly (regular communications are also encrypted between the client and server with the app’s own protocol). At the same time, Signal brings more security features, but may not bring all the functionality users to expect.
Advantages and disadvantages of the apps
- WhatsApp: has end-to-end message encryption, more features, and a larger contact base. On the downside, it shares a lot of data with Facebook and does not encrypt metadata that may expose user details;
- Telegram: has end-to-end encryption only in secret messages, brings solutions to self-destruct messages and features similar to WhatsApp collecting fewer data and allowing use on other machines without the need to use phone data;
- Signal: is the most complete solution from the security point of view, ensuring the privacy of its users. On the other hand, it still has a low number of members (which can make it difficult to find contacts) and does not have as many communication resources as the others.
According to ESET, the advantage presented by Signal is that it allows anonymizing IP addresses during video calls and sending messages without revealing data from the sender’s phone number or profile. However, there is not exactly a warning about the use of the other applications, but rather the recommendation that all security systems offered should be turned on. Users need to be aware of the terms of service they sign to ensure the protection of their data.