Telegram vs Signal – Which is Best for Security

The last few years have really shaken the social media industry along with some high profile revelations about how the giants of Silicon Valley use and abuse our data, mostly without our permission or consent. As such, the industry has also seen a rise in awareness among the end-users whenever it comes to privacy-focused apps in niches such as browsers and messengers. Two messaging apps that have also seen a lot of traction are Telegram and Signal. Let’s now discuss Telegram vs Signal – Which is Best for Security.

We will also take a look at how secure these two apps are and how they handle user data and privacy actually. I have been using Telegram myself for some time now because it is the go-to platform for blockchain companies and enthusiasts, however, Signal is somewhat new to me.

Let’s now see how these two compare and what each and everyone has to offer to its users.

Telegram vs Signal – Which is Best for Security

Telegram

Well, the telegram is, perhaps, the most famous secure messaging app in the world. Statista mentioned that as of July 2019, the telegram was the 8th most famous messaging app around the globe. At the time, Telegram had about 200 million active users as well. Personally, I have been using telegram for quite a while now, mostly as I need to communicate with a lot of organizations and folks that also use Telegram.

Telegram also offers a lot of useful privacy features. Such as secret chats with self-destructing messages and 2FA are some of these. Another nice feature is the ability to unsend your messages actually. You can also delete a message both from your device and from the device of your recipient. Telegram also offers native applications for all of the major mobile and also desktop operating systems out there. Of course, there are also some cons to this application as well. Telegram does not give transparency reports, servers are not open source. Such as other secure messaging apps, and the messages can, theoretically, read through the company. Users of Telegram must also remember to turn on E2E encryption, as it is not active by default.

Signal | telegram vs signal

The easiest answer in order to move to a secure messaging app is Signal. The biggest endorsement for Signal is that it is used and advertised via popular privacy advocates. Such as Edward Snowden, who actually mentioned that he uses Signal every single day. Personally, I think that if Signal is could enough for Edward Snowden, it is good enough for me.

Signal has been created via a group called Open Whisper Systems. It does not come even close to the number of users that big apps such as WhatsApp have (1.6 billion users) or Facebook Messenger (1.3 billion). However, it does have the endorsement of some of the world’s experts on security and privacy as well.

The messaging protocol that has also been incorporated into Signal is thought to be the most secure one there is. In order, to get an idea of how good their messaging protocol is, other services also use it for their own secure modes. Such as, Facebook and Skype’s private conversations are inspire from Signal.

User Interface

Both Telegram and Signal have also a clean interface along with a traditional hamburger menu. Unfortunately, none of the apps feature a bottom navigation bar which is primitive and it makes it harder to reach the top corners. If you are using Telegram X rather than Telegram, you will notice some changes in the UI just like a separate tab for Chats and Calls next to the menu icon.

There is only one tab in Signal and you guys are not shown a list of all your contacts by default. Your search for them and open the chat window to either send a text or also make a call (audio or video). Signal’s UI is more akin to WhatsApp actually.

Both the messenger apps come with dark mode however, Telegram has other color options too.

Privacy and Security

This is the actual main selling point of both Telegram and Signal. The Telegram team, two Russian brothers, are so confident of the MTProto encryption technology actually. That they announced a $200,000 followed via a $300,000 contest to break into Telegram. No one won. All of the messages and calls in Telegram are end-to-end encrypted but their decision to not use the existing Signal protocol drew some flak. That forces them to release a statement explaining the difference between the two actually. All of the Telegram apps are open sourced and the company itself is not for profit. But, their backend is not open source that has raised some eyebrows.

Signal basically uses the Open Whisper System that basically comes recommended via none other than Bruce Schneier and Edward Snowden, one of the most well-known whistleblowers of the decade. Such as Telegram, all messages and calls are end-to-end encrypted via the Whisper Protocol which is open source.

In Telegram, you guys can delete any message that you have sent or received within just 48 hours. In case of media files such as pics, audio or video, you can also set a timer at the time of sending the media file. Options begin from 5 seconds to 1 minute actually.

telegram vs signal

In Signal, you guys can send Disappearing messages. You can select a time, say 1 minute, and the message will also be auto-deleted after the time has elapsed. This is also true for not just media files however, also text messages which are nice. Timing begins from 5 seconds and goes more than 1 week.

dissapearing messages

 

Further | telegram vs signal

In Telegram, rather than sending disappearing messages, there is an option called Secret Chat. Here is the kicker as well. This is where you guys can send self-destructing messages in all forms, it is end-to-end encrypted, and Telegram does not permit forwarding messages. Well, so what about regular messages? Turns out that they are not encrypted after all. Where Signal basically implements the security and privacy protocols right from the start, Telegram actually separates the two and offers an additional option too. The problem is that not everyone is aware of the Secret Chat option and first-time users may also send sensitive information in the regular chat window unknowingly.

Another issue is that the Secret Chat option is not immediately available as well. You guys have to open the chat window, head to the individual’s profile, and choose it from the menu. With Signal, I don’t really have to think twice before sending any type of message.

Each and every time one of my contacts join Telegram, I am notified of the same. How does Telegram know that he/she is my friend? Because they access and save your contacts list. Simple, however, not private. The signal never saves any data on your contacts which is really cool, and private.

Both Signal and Telegram don’t really permit to take screenshots or forwarding messages. The telegram has 2FA in place to further secure your account whereas Signal misses out on this feature.

What’s more

Well, on the flip side, a Reddit user discovered that photos and videos sent in the self-destructing mode in Telegram were still being saved on his mobile’s SD card. If you guys are unsure, you can test it through opening the Android > Data > org.telegram.messenger folder and also check your Gallery app. Also, the end-to-end encryption only works in one-on-one chats and not group chats actually.

Both of the apps take security and privacy very seriously but differ whenever it comes to the technology deployed and methods used. The general consensus is that the Signal protocol is actually more secure and the fact that there is no need to create a secret chat window separately in the Signal app does win brownie points from me actually.

Verification Method

This is where Signal leaves each and every other messenger app behind on the planet right now. Whenever you guys call someone on Signal, the app immediately generates a random series of numbers called Safety Number. The same set of numbers also generates on the recipient’s phone actually. Both of the parties can now verify this number to know that the profile is verified and genuine as well. It’s pretty easy to create fake accounts and SIM frauds are nothing new actually. You guys can also verify each other’s profile via scanning QR codes that contain this unique set of numbers and mark the profile as verified. This way, you guys also know the profile is genuine and not a dummy.

telegram vs signal

What about folks who live across the ocean and along with whom you cannot meet personally? Whenever you make a call through Signal, it will also generate a two-word secret code on both of the profiles. You will speak the first word and the recipient will check it as well. Then he will also speak the second word and you guys can check it on your end. If both the words match, the call has not intercepted and connected to the correct profile actually. If the words don’t really match, then hang up immediately and try again. Pretty cool, right?

Features | telegram vs signal

You can also use Signal as your default text or SMS message app that replaces the one that shipped with your mobile. This is really cool and also it makes your life that much secure. However, if Signal is more secure, Telegram is the more feature-rich of the two.

Another reason in order to select Telegram over Signal is group chat. There are many developers and YouTubers who actually use telegram for mass group chat. You can also create massive Channels (groups) with more than 200,000 members which are unheard of in any messenger app actually. You can also attach files of more than 1.5GB which is again generous. At present, it is unclear that how many members that you can add in a group in Signal and the file size that can be attached as well.

telegram vs signal

Telegram also supports bots that can be used to welcome new members, announce rules of the group, auto-delete posts that consist of particular words, and many more. This makes life easier for admins and precisely why the app is so famous with blockchain and crypto enthusiasts as well as private companies. Those who like to keep their followers updated with news. You can also assign roles to different members such as subscriber, moderator, admin, and so on. Helps when group size is humongous. Unlike Signal, telegram permits to share your current location, if you want.

The signal doesn’t really support bots, file size is capped, there is no API, and you guys cannot assign roles to group members. Signal was build for a privacy-first app and it does it pretty well.

Pricing and Platform

Both Telegram and Signal are absolutely free along with no ads or endorsements and are available on all of the major computer and mobile operating systems.

Conclusion

You are good to go. If you have any queries and issues related to this “telegram vs signal” article then let us know in the comments section below.

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