The 10 apps you need to keep prying eyes away from your mobile messages and data

The 10 apps you need to keep prying eyes away from your mobile messages and data

Summary: Maintaining privacy online seems almost impossible, but there are a tools that can minimise the chances of your personal, financial or business data falling into the wrong hands.

TOPICS: Security, Apps, Privacy

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  • Silent Circle's Silent Phone and Silent Text

    Silent Phone is the next product of PGP creator Phil Zimmerman. The app allows encrypted peer-to-peer calls on 3G, 4G and wi-fi networks using the ZRTP — Zimmerman's key exchange program for VoIP — and TLS to encrypt data packets.

    According to Silent Circle, only Silent Phone users exchange keys for each peer-to-peer call. The keys are not held on a server, meaning that governments can't request the service provider to hand over the keys.

    The Silent Text IM app allows encrypted messaging between devices with the app installed. Silent Text uses Silent Circle's own IM protocol with encryption keys staying on the device and not on the company's servers.

    "Each message receives a new key that is only used once and then destroyed. Only you and the person that you are texting can decrypt and read the information. The Secure Authentication String or SAS is unique to each text and used only once. As a result, the threat of retroactive compromise is eliminated," according to Silent Circle.

    Silent Text's version of a self-destructing message is a Burn Notice. Users can set the message to delete from both the sending and the receiving device between one minute and 23 hours 59 minutes.

    The Silent Circle mobile bundle, which includes Text and Phone, is available for $99.95 a year.

    Silent Circle privacy apps will soon start shipping on the Black Phone unveiled last month.

  • CryptoCat

    CryptoCat has faced its fair share of criticism over security flaws — but, according to cryptography experts, its code is maturing.

    CryptoCat's desktop encrypted IM service is implemented in the browser and was designed to make using encryption easier.

    After an initial rejection, last week CryptoCat's founder Nadim Kobeissi succeeded in getting Apple's approval to distribute its new iOS app on the App Store.

    Kobeissi explains: "Users enter a conversation using a one-time nickname. There are no buddy lists or account activity or account history to link back to the user. This way, CryptoCat offers a unique ephemerality that makes setting up encrypted conversations immediate and without any lasting history that can be traced back to users.

    "CryptoCat for iPhone uses the [Off-the-record] OTR protocol for private conversations, and our solidly maturing multi-party protocol for group conversations. With our current research into mpOTR, we hope to soon offer an upgraded global standard that brings CryptoCat’s encryption system to other platforms as well."

    According to encryption experts, OTR is a well-studied protocol for one-to-one communications, but question marks still hang over the multi-party variant. An Android app is on the way.

  • The Onion Browser for iOS

    The Onion Browser promises access to the dark net from your mobile phone and tunnels web traffic through The Onion Router (TOR) encrypted network.

    The Onion Browser is only for iOS devices and has been developed independently of the Tor Project, which maintains its own Tor browser for desktops.

    However, the Onion Browser offers similar benefits, such as masking the user's IP address and web browsing activities. It also allows users to access hidden services at .onion addresses and a one-click option to clear browser cookies.

    Anyone concerned about their privacy should probably read the disclaimer by the app's developer, Mike Tigas, who notes that regardless of the app, iOS devices may still leak traffic from other services and apps on the device to network providers. Also, the Onion Browser also won't conceal who you are if you log into a service outside of the Tor network.

    It's available for 99 cents from the Apple App Store

Topics: Security, Apps, Privacy

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • You forgot TigerText ;)

    TigerText is the leader in simplifying and securing enterprise messages. Definitely another great app (free to download for iOS and Android) for keeping prying eyes away from your mobile messages.