I’m a friend of John’s for several years now who works in the IT security industry. I’m also the dad of Cole, his godson. John and I met through World of Warcraft way back in vanilla and stomped around Azeroth for many years.
He has asked me to do a few posts about helping you secure your personal communications and the like. This will hopefully be a multipart series that you will find useful. I want to cover different vectors of communication like texting, instant messaging, email and more. Later, we can talk about data leakage on social media and the like.
Starting with texting/instant messaging….. Anything sent via SMS or MMS (traditional text messages) are not secure at all. They are not encrypted in transit so a man in the middle can read the message while it travels across the network. Your cellular carrier also keeps copies of these messages and can retrieve them and provide them to law enforcement. Bottom line, if you care about secure communication, don’t use this AT ALL. It doesn’t matter who made your phone or what version of the OS is on it, this communication is unencrypted and vulnerable to both rogue malicious actors as well as the state.
Instant messaging has taken off and replaced SMS and MMS for a lot of people, both because it doesn’t cost per message like SMS used to be sold, but also because of the features the different clients offered. These are things like iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram, Allo, Facebook Messenger and more. There is a good article on The Verge that does a quick and dirty breakdown of each from a security perspective. Click here to read it!
I think that’s all for tonight. I’ll talk more about how to deal with things like backups, server side copies and more in the coming days. I leave you with some kid pics of Cole since John said you guys like that stuff.