When I began my on-going #noemail project, I knew or at least suspected that email would be replaced by smarter messaging systems. My hunch was that something more social, more interactive, more mobile friendly, more whitelist than completely open. What I didn’t count on what the proliferation of encrypted and even self-destructing-messaging apps.
Email can be encrypted and to some extent GMail does some transactional cryptography with https and ssl, but most email is sent and stored in the most insecure ways. Yet not only individuals, but financial services and medical sites also, often rely on email or email that directs you to a moderately secure site.
On the other hand, secure messaging is offered in various flavors by SnapChat, Wickr, WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Signal, Allo, Duo, BlackBerry Messenger, Gliph, Threema, ChatSecure, Line, Cyber Dust, and more. [Please send me your favorites if they aren’t listed here.]
Even old school messaging apps like AIM, Facebook Chat, Skype, Yahoo! Messenger and Gchat encrypt in transit — as some email does under some conditions.
Things are moving so fast that even the Electronic Frontier Foundation can’t keep up with them. EFF did a great job of evaluating secure messaging in late 2014 and produced a very useful scorecard, but that was out of date almost as soon as it was published. They’ve since produced a Surveillance Self-Defense Guide and promise that a new Scorecard will be on the way soon.
At the end of Year Five of #noemail, I ask myself why didn’t I make a point, amongst my Seven Points seen in Part 1, of talking more about security and encryption? It’s not like I don’t care about it. It’s not like I don’t have many of the secure messaging apps on my own phone. I mean ibiblio does run a TOR Exit Node (in support of journalists and our students and faculty as they travel).
I am aware of the need and desire for secure messaging — but I grew up with email where encryption was a task, a pain, such a specialty that even using encryption showed you were hiding something more than just embarrassing –; I hadn’t thought encryption would be so simple, so baked in to the apps, and so widely desired for even the simplest messages and exchanges.
I came around to this in Year Five of #noemail. It had been creeping up on me for the past few years. But now I should add to the list:
8. We want — no we demand — control over our messages via encryption and timed self destruction. Email does not and will not provide that.
This is Part 2 on a reflection and analysis and personal experience at Year Five of #noemail