Similarities and differences between Telegram and Signal
“Telegram has surpassed 500 million active users. In the last 72 hours alone, more than 25 million new users from all over the world have joined Telegram ”. With this message, Telegram informed its users that in recent days the Telegram community has become more nourished.
“As part of the Facebook family of companies, Whatsapp receives information from and shares information with this family of companies” – reads the message “We can use the information we receive, and they can use the information we share with them, to help operate , provide, improve, understand, customize, support and market our services and their offers “. In essence, Mark Zuckerberg has reneged on the promise made when he bought Whatsapp to ensure a high profile of privacy for the messaging platform.
Start Magazine talked about these technological and social aspects of daily communications with two experts in social networks and privacy, Rachele Zinzocchi and Marta Pellizzi.
Whatsapp end-to-end encryption: a myth rather than reality
“If you have a Whatsapp profile, this is enough to make you forget what privacy is, even if you don’t have Facebook”. Rachele Zinzocchi is clear in dismantling the “myth” of the alleged privacy protected by Whatsapp. “Facebook and Whatsapp have been sharing user data with each other and with third parties for 4-5 years now. Even end-to-end encryption goes to hell, privacy is totally non-existent ”.
Privacy is not just an advertising issue
What happens is that the data, and therefore the messages, that users exchange on Whatsapp are shared with other Zuckerberg companies (Facebook and Instagram) to profile users. But what are the risks? First of all to be targeted by advertisements sewn on users but not only. “The breach of privacy is not just about advertising, it puts data at risk that can end up in the hands of hackers. Let’s take geolocation for example ”- adds Zinzocchi -“ There are people who use it with such ease as to “give the house keys to the thief”. When I was still holding face-to-face lectures, before Covid, I used the example of a contact of mine who shared his position on Facebook on the occasion of the New Year celebrations. With a series of screenshots it was possible to reconstruct the geographical map to get to identify the house where this person was spending the holidays ”. A nice advantage for house rats. “Users are the exchange price of the free service, where you don’t sign up for a pay subscription with your privacy.”
Escape from Whatsapp to Telegram and Signal
Signal is the app for security fanatics, Telegram the most complete
According to experts, the new Signal messaging app is number one in terms of conversation security but does not offer all the features that Telegram offers. “Signal is for privacy fanatics or if you have something extremely delicate to share” – Zinzocchi tells us – “But it only offers a slice of the services offered by Telegram”. Telegram appears to be the most complete and versatile app both in terms of audience and functions. “Telegram can reserve many positive surprises, it can be used for many by personal brand, brand awareness, team management or as an alert system” – says Marta Pellizzi – “We think of Public Administrations, public bodies can notify citizens promptly and for free. This is because Telegram allows you to create channels to which citizens can subscribe and be notified, and it is free for administrations and citizens. The Municipality of Genoa together with the Civil Protection used Telegram to promptly notify citizens in the management of the Morandi Bridge emergency and the channel is still active “.
Telegram’s double level of security
If Signal is the safest messaging system from the point of view of privacy, Telegram is perhaps the one that best combines security and usability, both for simple users and for business operations. “Telegram ensures a double level of security. The first level has 100% guaranteed security, the second 1000 per 100. This second level is guaranteed in the so-called secret chats where there is an ent-to-end encryption level for which a message travels from the sender to the receiver without passing from a server ”- says Rachele Zinzocchi -“ There is also a second level of security that is effective for most users and business users. This is achieved through so-called cloud chats which are guaranteed by server-client-client-server encryption. This means that the content of the message passes through a server called MTProto and through this transit it reaches the recipient. Unlike other applications such as Facebook and Whatsapp, the message passes like the pieces of a broken glass, the contents of that message are found distributed in all parts of the globe: a piece in Bangladesh, a piece in Italy, another in Burundi and so on. Which makes total privacy because on the one hand it is impossible to reconstruct the pieces of the puzzle, on the other hand it is not certain that the Governor of Bangladesh wants to allow Telegram authorities to access that data if they request it. So safety is totally guaranteed ”.
Telegram: contraindications and dark sides
The double level of security guaranteed by Telegram is not free from contraindications. The first of which is the slowness of data transfer. “The level of secret chats is not suitable for the masses, for which the level of cloud chats is enough and advances. There are two reasons: the first is that the MTProto protocol guarantees the ability to quickly share files up to 2 Giga. ” – adds Rachele Zinzocchi – “The second point is that Telegram users could be accused of illegal operations and therefore in need of secrecy”. Speed and security would seem to make Telegram the winning messaging app over the others. One aspect of Telegram to pay attention to is the use of the “People Nearby” feature. With this service, the device is given permission to geolocate its position. “We are not geolocated regardless. The geolocation of your position is a voluntary activity, Telegram does not geolocate you unless it is expressly requested “- Marta Pellizzi reassures us -” The geolocation can start either from Telegram to share the map with a friend while moving around the city or for find people close to you, both outside of Telegram, perhaps if you activate your position on Instagram “.