iMessage 'most secure' mass-market messaging platform

EFF report names Apple's messaging service as most secure mass-market offering

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iMessage 'most secure' mass-market messaging platform iPhones and iPads are sold in the Middle East without FaceTime and iMessage installed on them (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
By  Tom Paye Published  November 10, 2014

Apple's iMessage and FaceTime services are the best mass-market messaging options for customer looking to conduct secure communications, according to a recent report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

EFF this week released findings from its Secure Messaging Scorecard, which evaluated dozens of messaging technologies on a range of security best practices. Of the mass-market messaging platforms, the organisation found Apple's offerings to be the most secure, thanks largely to the end-to-end encryption that prevents Apple from being able to disclose the information.

The report noted that many other mass-market offerings lack this sort of end-to-end encryption. EFF highlighted Google, Facebook, WhatsApp and Apple's e-mail products as lacking in encryption, adding that Yahoo's web and mobile chat and Secret would also fail to protect against disclosure by the service provider.

EFF also said that several major platforms, such as QQ, Mxit, and the desktop version of Yahoo Messenger, have no encryption at all.

The scorecard includes more than three dozen tools, including chat clients, text messaging apps, email applications, and technologies for voice and video calls. EFF examined them on seven factors, like whether the message is encrypted both in-transit and at the provider level, and if the code is audited and open to independent review. 

"The revelations from Edward Snowden confirm that governments are spying on our digital lives, devouring all communications that aren't protected by encryption," said EFF technology projects director Peter Eckersley.

"Many new tools claim to protect you, but don't include critical features like end-to-end encryption or secure deletion."

The report noted that, even while Apple's iMessage and FaceTime were the best of the mass-market platforms, they would still not be able to protect against sophisticated, targeted forms of surveillance.

For complete protection from surveillance, the report highlighted lesser-known, privacy-focused messaging platforms. ChatSecure, CryptoCat, Signal/Redphone, Silent Phone, Silent Text, and TextSecure scored all seven stars on the scorecard, EFF said.

The aim of the report, the organisation said, was to spur innovation in creating stronger cryptography among technology vendors.

"We're focused on improving the tools that everyday users need to communicate with friends, family members, and colleagues," said EFF staff attorney Nate Cardozo.

"We hope the Secure Messaging Scorecard will start a race-to-the-top, spurring innovation in stronger and more usable cryptography."

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