How the Signal Desktop app can help protect your privacy

Texting has replaced talking as the primary use of a telephone. For those who want to keep up with what we’re talking about, that’s made their lives easier. It’s a lot easier to store and work with plain text than it is with audio. So maybe using a secure texting app is a good idea.

That’s where Signal comes in. Signal is a secure messaging app for Android, iPhone and the desktop† Like most other messaging apps, Signal can be used for text, voice, and video calls.

However you use it, it’s encrypted from the moment it leaves your phone until decrypted on the recipient’s phone in their Signal app. You can still message people without the Signal app, but it won’t be encrypted. Learn to encrypt all your data† It’s a smart idea.

Texting from the desktop

If you spend a lot of time on a computer, both for work and leisure, it’s nice to be able to text from the desktop† Stopping every few minutes to pick up the phone and send someone back is annoying. The folks at Signal know that, so they’ve turned their app into a desktop app. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. The Signal desktop app is a free download

What can I do with the Signal Desktop app?

The Signal desktop app is a little more limited than the phone app. It’s for texting only. You can send pictures, voice messages under 5 minutes, videos and other types of files. However, you cannot use it for live video or voice messages.

Signal supports just about every emoji you can think of; people, animals, food, activities, travel, objects, symbols and flags.

It comes with two sticker packs; Zozo the French bulldog and Bandit the cat. You can also create and upload your own sticker packs in Signal. This is not a boring text only app that is crippled by security. It’s a comprehensive messaging app that just happens to have solid security.

How does the Signal Desktop app protect your security?

The cornerstone of Signal’s security is end-to-end encryption. What you see as your message turns into something unreadable when it leaves your phone.

High-quality encryption

It can only be converted back to a readable message when it reaches the Signal app of the intended recipient. Everything that goes through the Signal desktop app is encrypted. Messages, files, images, videos, stickers…everything is encrypted.

How encrypted? Signal uses its own encryption protocol that uses several encryption techniques that are said to be very secure in their own right. AES-256 encryption is just one of them.

Verified connection with your phone

The phone app is registered to your phone’s number, so it’s hard for anyone to pretend to be you unless they have your phone. The Signal desktop app is linked directly to your phone. When you install the app, it will open with a large QR code screen that allows you to link it to your phone.

Because the app is linked to your phone and your phone number is registered with Signal through the phone app, it’s easier for people to verify that the message is really from you.

Limited to contacts in your signal phone app

When you link the Signal desktop app to your phone, contacts are imported from the app to your phone. That’s the only way to get contacts into the desktop app. This feature prevents you from accidentally sending your top secret messages to the wrong person due to a typo.

Self-destructing messages

Speaking of top secret messages, you can also set a self-destruct timer for all messages sent from the Signal desktop app. Click the three-dot menu and then click Disappearing messages† Now you can choose how long a message will last.

The countdown starts as soon as you send the message, not as soon as your friend receives it. This way, if someone else picks up their phone later, that message is gone.

Conversations can be verified by both people

Ideally, you’ve also verified that you’re messaging your friend’s app and vice versa. That can go on to the three dots menu.

click on View security number, and check if they have the same number under you in their app. Each Signal Call has a unique security number.

If they are the same, you can mark your security number as verified. Next to their name in the conversation, you’ll see a checkmark with Verified In addition. Now you know for sure that you are sending your friend a message and not being phishing. It also helps protect against man-in-the-middle attacks.

Customizable Desktop Notifications

There is also the option to set the type of desktop notification you receive or disable the notification. This is useful if you’re minimizing the app to the desktop, perhaps because you’re showing someone something on your screen.

Click Notifications can be set to; Both sender name and message, sender name only, no name or message, or disable notifications. You can also set an audio notification, which is useful if you’ve turned off the visual notification.

Use signal, be safe

If information security is a concern, the Signal desktop app is for you. Honestly, all messaging apps should have this level of security. For more security, you can click File and then: clear data

You will get a warning that all contacts and all messages are about to be deleted and cannot be retrieved. Make sure you want to do that before clicking the Delete all data knob.

Now you know how the Signal desktop app can help protect your privacy, as well as the Signal phone app. If you use both, you also benefit from the highest convenience.

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