Secure Messaging: How to Encrypt Email and Text Messages

November 5, 2014 Timothy Mobile Apps

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has announced a new Campaign for secure and usable crypto. By that, EFF means they are evaluating and promoting the best, most secure means to encrypt your email and text communications. With modern business thick with competitors and governments, both foreign and domestic, spying on everyone for advantage, this is a good thing.

To start, EFF has launced their Secure Messaging Scorecard which lists various secure software solutions and their abilities in easy to compare form. Features scored include encryption in transit (most), provider ability to read (fewer), verification of contacts’ identity (even fewer) and security of past communications if your keys are stolen (fewest).

Among the most secure and best rated solutions are:

CryptoCat is free, open source source software for secure goup chatting and file sharing. Everything is encrypted before leaving your device, even to the CryptoCat network, so don’t ask for them to un-code your stuff. They can’t do it. However, as CryptoCat makes plain on their home page, this “… is not a magic bullet. Don’t ever trust a piece of software with your life.” CryptoCat is available for Android and Apple devices, as well as popular Internet browsers.

RedPhone by WhisperSystems “provides end-to-end encryption for your calls.” You dial the call using your normal dialer and can take the call secure at any point. Redphone is available for Android only.

TextSecure is another Whispersystems offering for secure text messaging on Android devices. TextSecure replaces the defualt text app and all text messages are encrypted on the device before sending. This means that if you lose your phone, your text messages remain secure. Note that only messages to other TextSecure users are encrypted over the air. So, ensure your employees, customers, and others have TextSecure before sending something sensitive.

SilentCircle’s Silent Phone provides global encrypted voice calling. This for-profit app automatically encrypts calls and texts between other “in circle” app users. Several plans are offered beginning at $12.95 monthly for 100 out of circle minutes.

Silent Text is SilentCircle’s secure text messaging app which is included with all subscriptions. You also receive Silent Contact which is a secure password protected, encrypted address book.

All of the above products were the highest rated (green checks in all columns) secure message and encrypted email products on EFF’s scorecard as of this date. If you use one of the above products, please comment below and tell us about your experiences.


About Timothy Lee

Tim, the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center's webmaster and technical training specialist, has been with ASBTDC since 1995. He retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of master sergeant. He's a bit gung-ho, turns cat food cans into cook stoves, and keeps packing ASBTDC equipment for rapid worldwide deployment, but he's your "go to" guy for technical solutions and full-scale disasters.

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