Online privacy is more important than ever. This is especially true if you use online applications and services to store your data and communicate with others. One approach taken by software companies is to implement end-to-end encryption, promising complete privacy and security.
But what is end-to-end encryption and which apps use it to improve privacy?
How online messages are transported
Every time you send a message, email, or file over the Internet, it is broken down into small packets of data. Then your Internet service provider, or ISP, and the application transport it to the target address. But while on the go, your data travels separately through multiple lanes from your device to the recipient, leaving a high risk of interception.
Encryption is the use of precise and secure mathematical algorithms to distort sets of data so that they become unrecognizable and unreadable. The only way to read encrypted data is to break its encryption or use the authorized decryption key.
However, not all encryption protocols are created equal. Each method excels in some areas and fails in others. To secure online communication channels, you need a strong and versatile encryption protocol. A system secure enough to protect your privacy while allowing the app to encrypt and decrypt data quickly. End-to-end encryption checks almost all the necessary boxes for fast and private online communication.
What is end-to-end encryption?
End-to-end encryption, also known as E2EE or E2E encryption, is an encryption protocol often used to secure online communications. With end-to-end encryption, the content of your messages is encrypted natively on your device or account before they reach the mail app’s servers or your internet provider. Importantly, messages are not decrypted until they reach the recipient.
Due to the nature of online communication, you have to rely on the Internet and service providers to exchange data with others. Without proper encryption — or using only encryption in transit, where the service provider encrypts messages and decrypts them when they reach their destination — the application company, your ISP, and anyone else who intercepts messages can read their content, keep records, modify and manipulate their content.
Email applications using end-to-end encryption
More and more email applications have adapted E2EE in their security, either as a default setting or as an option that you can enable. This coincides with the growing awareness of people about the importance of online privacy and the risks of bad encryption.
Founded in 2014, Signal is an open-source, free messaging app. In addition to offering E2EE for text messages, images, video calls, audio files, and chats by default, Signal is cross-platform. You can install Signal on your Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, and macOS devices.
Download: Signal for Android | iOS | Windows | macOS (free)
WhatsApp is a free messaging app that lets you send text messages, pictures, set up video and audio calls, and send secure payments. In 2016, WhatsApp started using E2EE to meet higher standards of user privacy.
The app is available on Android and iOS devices. Additionally, you can use the official web app and WhatsApp clients for Windows and macOS desktop devices.
Download: WhatsApp for Android | iOS | Windows | macOS (free)
Telegram is an open source, cloud-based free messaging app. It provides end-to-end encryption for SMS, video and audio calls, VoIP, and file sharing. Telegram is cross-platform and available on Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux with a free desktop web app.
Download: Telegram for Android | iOS | Windows | macOS | Linux (free)
Email services using end-to-end encryption
Email is the way people often send important documents and files, instead of the occasional chatter. That is why many free email service providers use E2EE to ensure better privacy and security.
ProtonMail is an open source E2EE email service provider that has been around since 2013. It allows you to send and store your encrypted emails using their servers without sacrificing security.
You can install the ProtonMail app on your Android and iOS devices, and use the web app or Premium Bridge feature to install it on macOS, Windows, and Linux PCs.
Download: ProtonMail for Android | iOS (free in-app purchases available)
Tutanota is a free and open source E2EE messaging service. In addition to encryption, it offers 2FA, encrypted email storage and calendar. You can directly install the Tutanota app on Android, iOS and use the web app for Windows, macOS, and Linux.
Download: Tutanota for Android | iOS (free in-app purchases available)
Thunderbird is a free and open source email service developed by the Mozilla Foundation. With a one-click address book and an email archive, Thunderbird is available on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
Download: Thunderbird for Windows | macOS | Linux (free)
Password managers that use end-to-end encryption
If there’s anything more important to protect than communication, it’s passwords. Password managers present the risk of having all your passwords in one place protected by a single password. To make sure they stay secure, they use strong encryption.
1Password is a password management app and service that uses E2EE to secure your connections, both natively on your device and with cloud sync and backup. The master password you use to protect your credentials is known only to you, not even the people at 1Password know.
1Password apps are available on a variety of devices, from iOS and Android to Windows, macOS, Linux, and Chrome OS.
Download: 1Password for Android | iOS | Windows | macOS | Linux | Chrome OS ($ 2.99 / month)
Dashlane is a password manager and wallet app. It uses E2EE to ensure that your data is never decrypted on your device until after entering the master password. All data stored by Dashlane on its servers is fully encrypted and remains private and secure in the event of a breach or leak.
Dashlane apps are available on Android and iOS, as well as the web app for macOS and Windows, and browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Edge.
Download: Dashlane for Android | iOS | Chrome | Edge (Free in-app purchases available)
Video conferencing applications using end-to-end encryption
Video conferencing applications are often useful for organizing remote business meetings and online courses. It is therefore essential for them to have proper encryption to ensure user privacy.
Zoom is a free video conferencing app that is popular among schools and businesses for virtual lessons and meetings. From 2020, to meet high privacy and security requirements, Zoom has implemented the E2EE option. However, Zoom’s end-to-end encryption is not the default setting. The meeting host must turn it on before starting the meeting.
E2EE Secure Zoom Calls are available on Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS.
Download: Zoom for Android | iOS | Windows | macOS (free in-app purchases available)
Understand the importance of encryption
There is no doubt that E2EE is one of the most secure and efficient types of encryption to use for online communication channels. As people seek to understand encryption, privacy, and security, the demand for even stronger encryption would also increase, leading more apps and services to adopt it.
If you really want to protect your privacy, you have to use the right apps to do it. Here are five apps you need to keep in mind for everyday use.
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