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This chapter is geared towards beginners. No particular tech skills are required.

Encrypt your messages

Encrypted messenger apps

Signal

Signal is a fast, simple and secure messaging app. It's free, open source and relies on a centralized architecture, operated by the Signal Foundation. The app features end-to-end encryption for text, voice, videos, pictures and files. Note that Signal can handle push notifications without Google's Cloud Messaging (GCM) and falls back on websockets if GCM is not available. This comes in handy if you are looking to de-google your phone — we'll touch upon this in a later chapter. Mind however that Signal isn't anonymous, since it requires access to your phone number.

Mobile clients

Download Signal from Google's Play Store, Aurora Store or navigate to Signal's website and download the .apk file manually. The app contains 0 trackers and requires 67 permissions. By comparison: for TikTok it's 16 trackers and 76 permissions; for Snapchat it's 2 trackers and 44 permissions; and for WhatsApp it's 1 tracker and 57 permissions.

Download Signal from the App Store.

Desktop clients

Simply download the installer, then click on the "Run" button and follow the installation wizard. Mind the fact that the desktop app requires Signal to be installed on your phone.

Simply download the installer, which should open by itself and mount a new volume containing the Signal application. If not, open the downloaded Signal .dmg file and drag the appearing Signal icon on top of the Application folder. For easy access, open the Applications folder and drag the Signal icon to your dock. Mind the fact that the desktop app requires Signal to be installed on your phone.

Open the terminal with the CTRL + ALT + T shortcut, or click on the "Applications" button on the top left and search for "Terminal". Run the following commands to install the signing key:

wget -O- https://updates.signal.org/desktop/apt/keys.asc |\
sudo apt-key add -

Add Signal to the repository list:

echo "deb [arch=amd64] https://updates.signal.org/desktop/apt xenial main" |\
sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/signal-xenial.list

Finally, update the package database and install Signal:

sudo apt update && sudo apt install signal-desktop

Mind the fact that the desktop app requires Signal to be installed on your phone.

Support

For further details or questions, refer to Signal's documentation or ask the Signal community.


Encrypted messengers

Other encrypted messengers

Silence is a secure, open source SMS and MMS app for Android. All messages are encrypted locally and messages to other Silence users are encrypted over the air. Simply download the app from Google's Play Store, F-Droid or Aurora Store. The app contains 0 trackers and requires 19 permissions.

Element is a secure and open source messenger, available on all desktop and mobile devices. It's based on the Matrix protocol and relies on a decentralized architecture. Users can choose between several independent servers or can self-host their own instance.

Briar is a secure and open source messenger app for Android. It's based on a peer-to-peer architecture, where users directly connect without relying on servers. Simply download the app from Google's Play Store, F-Droid or Aurora Store. The app contains 0 trackers and requires 11 permissions.