Data protection with messengers - the apps at a glance

Data protection with messengers - the apps at a glance

These days, pretty much everyone uses messenger services to stay in touch with friends, family and acquaintances. Companies also use messengers for internal communication. The data protection of messengers plays a decisive role in both private use and in companies - after all, sensitive data is often disclosed via messenger services, which is processed by the respective apps and may be passed on to other applications. Personal data in particular, such as bank details, location data, general personal data and other information deserve special protection. Swisscows provides information on what is important in terms of data protection for messengers and what to look out for.

Evaluation criteria for privacy-compliant messengers

Various criteria are used to assess whether the data protection of a messenger is good. The most important are:

·       Business model: The business model of a messenger service is crucial insofar as services that are financed by advertising may use user data for targeted advertising. A model based on donations often offers more data protection.

·       Server location: The server location also has important implications for the data protection of a messenger. The legal framework applicable in the respective country is decisive for the handling of user data, and messengers whose servers are located in the EU have a fundamental level of data security thanks to the EU GDPR.

·       Account settings: With regard to a high level of data protection for messengers, the ability to control the account is also very important. The option to delete the account should be available in any case.

·       End-to-end encryption: Strong encryption is crucial to protect messages and calls from unauthorized access.

·       Address details: The handling of contact data and address books is another important aspect of a messenger's data protection.

Each of the components mentioned contributes significantly to the protection of privacy. A messenger should therefore meet as many criteria as possible for comprehensive data protection.

TeleGuard - the intuitive, secure & privacy-compliant messenger

Our messenger service TeleGuard offers a high level of data protection thanks to complex encryption and does not store any user data. The servers for our service are located in Switzerland, which is why we take data protection seriously with our messenger - TeleGuard is subject to Swiss data protection laws and is GDPR-compliant. As TeleGuard is financed by donations, no data is collected to place personalized advertising, for example. The app does not bind users' phone numbers and allows them to hide their own number using IP telephony. No data is saved when the app is deleted.

Although WhatsApp is by far the most popular messenger on the market, the app has considerable shortcomings in terms of data protection. The problem is that users cannot manage their personal data precisely. In addition, WhatsApp collects a wide variety of data, including profile picture, date of birth, phone number, name, status, location data, microphone and camera access as well as information about running apps. Controversy arose primarily in connection with the transfer of data to the parent company Facebook. In addition, the server is located in the USA, where the level of data protection is generally lower. The use of WhatsApp is therefore often problematic, especially in companies, and leads to violations of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Telegram and data protection - the messenger has many shortcomings

Telegram has long been considered a secure alternative, but the messenger's data protection has long been inadequate. Although the service offers end-to-end encryption in private chats, Telegram stores a lot of data in the cloud, which can be viewed not only by Telegram but also by third parties. This not only reveals sensitive personal data such as IP addresses, but also details about app usage, such as user name changes, information about joining channels and groups and device details. It is unclear where Telegram's servers are located, which also makes the legal framework surrounding data protection unclear. In recent years, Telegram's reputation has been tarnished due to the many illegal activities on the messenger, making many people suspicious of the platform.

Threema data protection - this messenger takes data security seriously

Threema is a GDPR-compliant messenger and attaches great importance to data protection and security. The app offers strong end-to-end encryption. Data is mainly stored locally - on the user's device - which ensures a high level of data protection on the messenger. Some elements of the app are open source, which ensures transparency and increases the trustworthiness of the app. Threema is fee-based.

Comprehensive data protection - with secure messenger, search engine and VPN

The use of a secure messenger contributes significantly to the protection of privacy. However, to ensure anonymity on the Internet and to be able to browse anonymously, users must take further measures. In the context of holistic data protection, Swisscows recommends a data-secure search engine and a VPN in addition to a secure messenger.

Popular search engines such as Google collect user data and use it for marketing purposes. It is not for nothing that more and more people are looking for alternative search engines to Google. To protect your privacy, you should use a search engine that neither stores nor passes on user data so that search queries and online activities remain private.

However, using a secure search engine only offers limited protection - search queries can still be saved locally and internet providers can also track online activities. In addition, privacy is not protected when using other online applications. Swisscows therefore recommends using a VPN. A VPN encrypts the data traffic, hides the IP address and thus prevents online activities from being monitored. This allows users to browse anonymously with a VPN.

Overall, there are several measures that users can take to protect their own data. An appropriate messenger, a VPN and an anonymous search engineshould be used for improved data protection.