Stay anonymous online- Protect your privacy with encrypted messaging


It is common for governments, corporations, and other organizations to monitor, record, and analyze online activities. While these data collection conveniences like personalized ads and product recommendations, it also poses risks like identity theft and mass surveillance. When you want to communicate sensitive information privately, encrypted messaging is essential.

Online privacy matters

There are many legitimate reasons to keep your online conversations confidential to discuss confidential business plans with a colleague, share private medical information with a doctor, or have sensitive political discussions with an activist group. The content of these messages is no one’s business but your own. Unfortunately, regular text messages and communication channels are not secure. Without encryption, your messages be easily intercepted and read by hackers, stored on insecure servers, and shared with third parties. The consequences of a privacy breach be serious – blackmail, public embarrassment, job loss, or even imprisonment in some countries. Encrypted messaging controls your privacy.

Encrypted messaging works

Encrypted messaging services use cryptographic techniques that scramble your messages in transit and be deciphered by the intended recipient. It prevents third parties from being able to read your conversations.  Here’s a simplified explanation of how it works:

  • Your message is encrypted by the app using a complex mathematical algorithm. It creates a coded version that looks like random gibberish.
  • The encrypted message is sent via the service’s servers to the recipient. Only the encrypted text is visible during transmission.
  • On the recipient’s device, the app decrypts the message using a secret cryptographic key that only the app knows. It converts the gibberish back into the original readable message.
  • The messages are decrypted locally on each user’s device so the service providers access their content. The secret keys never leave the users’ apps find more info
  • Some services provide additional security with features like message deletion timers that automatically erase conversations.

Going off-the-record

While encrypted messaging apps provide great security, truly leaving no trace of your conversations requires going “off the record” (OTR). OTR messaging uses ephemeral encryption keys that are immediately destroyed after use so messages later are deciphered if a key is compromised.  Popular OTR apps include Signal, Ricochet, and Jami. OTR chat also is accomplished with apps like Pidgin using the OTR plugin.

Going analog

When it’s truly sensitive, going low-tech might be safest. Passing handwritten notes in person or speaking in coded language leaves no digital trail at all. It evades potential vulnerabilities posed by computers and smartphones. Just make sure to use disappearing ink!

  1. Use long random passwords on all accounts and enable two-factor authentication when possible.
  2. Never click shady links that could download malware designed to compromise your device and intercept communications.
  3. Frequently update apps to close security loopholes that could be exploited.
  4. Use a reputable VPN to hide your IP address and encrypt data.
  5. Turn off facial/fingerprint unlocking which is compelled by law enforcement. Use passcodes.
  6. Manually verify contacts’ encryption keys when using new services to ensure authenticity.

Don’t let your private conversations become public knowledge. With encryption, anonymity is within your reach. Stay vigilant in your cyber security practices and judiciously evaluate any service promising confidentiality. The safest secret is one that’s never shared.

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