iMessage, FaceTime Given High Marks for Security vs Other Apps

After analyzing more than three dozen “secure messaging” products, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) (via MacRumors) ranked Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime as the best of the mass-market options.

“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. This scorecard gives you the facts you need to choose the right technology to send your message.”

Of the analyzed products, only six were given the highest possible score of seven stars: these were rededicated secure messaging apps such as ChatSecure, CryptoCat, Signal/Redphone, Silent Phone, Silent Text, and TextSecure.

Apple’s products meet five of the seven different factors the EFF has set for a secure messaging system: messages are encrypted both in transit and at the provider level; past communications remain secure if the user’s key is stolen; the products have proper documentation for their security; and the code has been audited. However, neither product currently provides complete protection against sophisticated, targeted forms of surveillance.

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The above scorecard represents only the first phase of the EFF’s campaign for Secure & Usable Crypto. There will be a much more detailed examination of the usability and security of the tools that scored the highest here, and that includes the Apple products. Actually, as the EFF highlights, the results shouldn’t be taken as a guarantee of the aforementioned products’ security, but as an indication that they are on the right track.

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