All three mobile apps are available in the Google Play Store, Apple’s App Store, which provides cross-platform messaging and group chat features.
Files and photos can be shared on them while text messages, voice and video calls can be made. Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp can all use end-to-end encryption to some extent.
The three do not differ much in privacy and security, but their comparison is as follows.
WhatsApp collects a lot of data. Free but ads may be added soon. Not open source other than encryption and provides Signal protocol encryption.
Understand that there is a difference between security and privacy, security protects against unauthorized access to data and privacy protects identity.
In terms of security, the encryption in WhatsApp is the same as of Signal and the encryption is secure. But the encryption protocol is one of the open source components, not the WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is a real app with different parts facing hacking just like Telegram. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ phone was also hacked via WhatsApp video message. Spyware has also been used to target vulnerabilities in WhatsApp software.
WhatsApp’s cloud backup feature has also been a source of controversy for some time because it was not encrypted. WhatsApp and Facebook can’t see the messages sent by the user but there is a huge list of other data that this app collects.
These include Unique Device ID, Use Edge, Advertising Data, Physical Location, Phone Number, Contact Information and Contact List, Device Used, App usage ets. These are some of the ones I found to be interesting:
However, WhatsApp says that contact details are not shared with Facebook and we cannot see the user’s share location.
This app only collects phone numbers and does not collect any data. It’s Free, no ads and Full open source. It provides Signal protocol encryption.
The signal can be found on the Google Play Store, Apple’s App Store, and can be used as a regular messaging app. This is an open source app developed by the Nonprofit Signals Foundation and used by privacy advocates J. Edward Snowden for years.
The main function of the signal is to send individual or group text, video, audio and photo messages. It allows other signals users to verify independently after verifying the phone number.
In the area of privacy, any app can barely beat the signal, as it does not collect user data while providing additional on-screen privacy options with encryption, such as app-specific locks, blanks, notification popups, Face blur tools and automatically disappearing messages.
Bugs exist in almost every technology, but the signal has a good reputation and is recommended by many companies.
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, and the chief executive of Twitter, have also advised people to use the signal, which has also increased the number of users of the app.
This app collects name, phone number, contacts and user ID. Free but soon the advertising platform and premium features will be added. It is Partial open source and use MT Proto Encryption.
Telegram is at the forefront of privacy and is different from other messaging apps in that it seeks to create a social network-like environment.
Although it does not collect as much data as WhatsApp, it does not support encrypted group calls like WhatsApp, while user data privacy and transparency like Signal are not part of this app.
The data that Telegram collects is mentioned above, but it also collects the user’s IP address, which is not done by the signal.
Unlike Signal and WhatsApp, one-to-one messages in Telegram are not encrypted by default, but have to be turned on in the app’s settings.
Group messages are not encrypted in Telegram either. Researchers have discovered that although the MT Proto Encryption Scheme is open source but some parts are not open source, it is not entirely clear what happens to user messages when they go to Telegram’s servers.
Telegram’s user data has also been hacked several times, with user IDs and phone numbers of more than 40 million users coming to light in March 2020, followed by data of 1.5 million users in 2016.
Signal is the best choice if you want to prefer privacy over fancy features. So it’s up to you to decide which of these three apps to choose, whether to prioritize features or complete protection, this preference is also your own.