In 2021, WhatsApp announced that it was sharing information with Facebook. This is not the first time the company has made such an announcement, and as a result many WhatsApp users have been looking for a new, more secure messaging app.
One of the most popular destinations for people who decide to leave WhatsApp is Telegram. And many users believe that if you want more security, then Telegram is the app to install.
But is Telegram really as secure as you think? Let’s find out with me.
What is Telegram?
Telegram is an easy-to-use messaging app that offers some of the same features as WhatsApp.
The platform was founded in 2013 by Pavel Durov, who also created social networks in Russia VKontakte and Nikolai Durov. As of 2021, Telegram has 500 million active users and now has over 1 billion users.
Why is Telegram considered safe?
Telegram is well known for being safe because it has some very good security features. For example, it provides end-to-end encryption and allows you to send self-destructing messages.
The platform is also used by people who want private messaging. For example, in 2019, protesters in Hong Kong used the service.
Telegram is also regularly marketed as a more secure alternative to WhatsApp, making it the first choice for many users looking for more security.
Why Telegram is not as secure as you think
Telegram has many useful security features, but there is still some room for improvement. Here are five reasons why.
Telegram’s end-to-end encryption is disabled by default
By default, all Telegram messages are encrypted. But this only happens when transferring from your device to the Telegram server. Once they reach the Telegram server, the data will be decrypted so that the messages can be accessed.
Telegram offers end-to-end encryption for private messages, but only if you enable the feature Secret Chat. This option also needs to be enabled separately for each contact.
Telegram does not provide end-to-end encryption for group chats.
Telegram uses proprietary encryption protocol
Telegram uses a unique encryption protocol called MTProto.
MTProto is developed by Telegram — and they are the only company that uses it. This means it is not as tested as other widely used protocols.
Several security experts have pointed to potential problems with the way MTProto is designed. The most recent example of this occurred in July 2021, when computer scientists from ETH Zürich in Switzerland and Royal Holloway, University of London in the UK reported various security weaknesses in MTProto.
Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark also found vulnerabilities in 2015.
True, the vulnerabilities discussed are not particularly severe. And to placate public opinion, Telegram responded to the statements and took action to correct them almost immediately.
Use a personal phone number
If you want to use Telegram, you need to provide a phone number. Given the fact that most people’s phone numbers are tied to their identities, this makes it impossible to sign up for Telegram anonymously.
This is something that all popular messaging apps suffer from and there is nothing strange about this policy. Phone numbers are collected to make it harder for people to create hundreds of accounts for spam purposes. But it’s something that you should know if you want an app for anonymous communication.
Alternatives to Telegram
If you are looking for an alternative private messaging app to Telegram, this is the list you need.
It also has a few additional privacy features. You can send messages anonymously without even the server knowing who the sender is. Furthermore, you have the option to blur faces in any photo you upload.
The app also boasts of being tracker-free and advertisers can’t run their campaigns on the platform.
WhatsApp has its own potential security issues. It has admitted to sharing information with Facebook, the parent company. On top of that, it’s also largely closed source.
However, a big advantage over Telegram is that all WhatsApp messages have end-to-end encryption enabled by default. This means that regardless of whether you trust Facebook or not, WhatsApp cannot read your messages. WhatsApp also uses the same encryption protocol as Signal.
Wickr is an interesting alternative to Telegram because it allows you to create an account without providing any personal information — so you don’t need to provide a phone number. Instead, each account belongs to anyone who knows the password.
It does not store IP addresses or device IDs. And whenever you upload an attachment, it automatically removes any metadata. This makes it more ideal for anonymous communication.
While Wickr can only be used as a messaging application, it is also a collaboration tool. That means a lot of added functionality, such as the ability to share your screen and your location in real time.
In addition, you can also read this article to know whether to choose Signal or Telegram to replace WhatsApp.