Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

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get_g0ing
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Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by get_g0ing »

Hi,

I'm looking for an encrypted messaging/texting app. Signal comes as highly recommend (it's free and open source) but requires a phone number so it's no anonymous.

Threema and Wickr do no require a phone number, so are claimed to be anonymous. But neither is open source.
Wickr has a discussion on its page (https://wickr.com/beyond-eavesdropping- ... -messaging) which indicates vulnerabilities in other apps (I don't doubt the discussion is biased).

Choosing such an app does not appear to be easy because even those that are end-to-end encrypted have different ways of handling the "metadata". Threema has an interesting post on metadata:
https://threema.ch/en/blog/posts/metadata#1

Any thoughts or comments on these based on personal use?

Thank you in advance.
AlphaLess
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by AlphaLess »

What is it for?
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ThriftyPhD
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by ThriftyPhD »

What protocol do the people you want to contact use? I can research messaging apps for weeks, but if the person I need to contact insists on an app because it has the best emoticons, then I wasted my time.
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get_g0ing
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by get_g0ing »

AlphaLess wrote: Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:59 pm What is it for?
ThriftyPhD wrote: Fri Nov 30, 2018 10:09 pm What protocol do the people you want to contact use? I can research messaging apps for weeks, but if the person I need to contact insists on an app because it has the best emoticons, then I wasted my time.
Currently I'm only researching and wanting to figure out which app is actually most secure/private, from a technical or implementation perspective.
TravelGeek
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by TravelGeek »

If you need anonymity with Signal, you can presumably think of a way of getting a phone number that is not linked to you.
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get_g0ing
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by get_g0ing »

TravelGeek wrote: Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:02 pm If you need anonymity with Signal, you can presumably think of a way of getting a phone number that is not linked to you.
I thought about it after your post but decided against it: If I lose my phone or uninstall the app, I would have to have access to that same phone number again if I need to restore my account. I don't want to be responsible for maintaining access to another phone number just for Signal :)

I think I'll prefer an app which is already designed to not need a phone number, like those two I mentioned.
AlphaLess
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by AlphaLess »

TravelGeek wrote: Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:02 pm If you need anonymity with Signal, you can presumably think of a way of getting a phone number that is not linked to you.
Except that the signal location of that phone will be associated with your physical location.
"A Republic, if you can keep it". Benjamin Franklin. 1787. | Party affiliation: Vanguard. Religion: low-cost investing.
AlphaLess
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by AlphaLess »

get_g0ing wrote: Fri Nov 30, 2018 10:35 pm
AlphaLess wrote: Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:59 pm What is it for?
ThriftyPhD wrote: Fri Nov 30, 2018 10:09 pm What protocol do the people you want to contact use? I can research messaging apps for weeks, but if the person I need to contact insists on an app because it has the best emoticons, then I wasted my time.
Currently I'm only researching and wanting to figure out which app is actually most secure/private, from a technical or implementation perspective.
And so what is that for?
"A Republic, if you can keep it". Benjamin Franklin. 1787. | Party affiliation: Vanguard. Religion: low-cost investing.
TravelGeek
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by TravelGeek »

AlphaLess wrote: Sat Dec 01, 2018 12:24 am Except that the signal location of that phone will be associated with your physical location.
You don’t need to use Signal on that phone, as far as I know. It is just needed to set up the account. So activate the account with a burner phone on Dec 31 at 11:59pm on Times Square. :)
lazydavid
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by lazydavid »

I've used Threema in the past and been quite happy with it. Be aware that if you don't maintain separate backups of the app (OS-level backups like those from Google/Samsung tools do not work), you cannot recover your identity onto another phone. Discovering that after the replacement of my phone due to a hardware failure, combined with the realization that my chats with my wife don't actually need to be that secure led me to stop using it. But if I had a legitimate need, I'd definitely go back.

One of the things I really like about Threema is the three dot security level indicator, and the fact that you can only get three green dots with someone if you've exchanged identities with them in person, by taking pictures of each other's QR code as displayed on the screen.
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wassabi
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by wassabi »

If Signal isn't an option, I'd consider using Wire. Wire allows you to use a login name instead of a phone number. I believe the app uses Signal's protocol and is open source.
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get_g0ing
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by get_g0ing »

AlphaLess wrote: Sat Dec 01, 2018 12:34 am
get_g0ing wrote: Fri Nov 30, 2018 10:35 pm
AlphaLess wrote: Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:59 pm What is it for?
ThriftyPhD wrote: Fri Nov 30, 2018 10:09 pm What protocol do the people you want to contact use? I can research messaging apps for weeks, but if the person I need to contact insists on an app because it has the best emoticons, then I wasted my time.
Currently I'm only researching and wanting to figure out which app is actually most secure/private, from a technical or implementation perspective.
And so what is that for?
To have a better understanding of these apps (and other apps that I use in general). I came across a discussion online and started thinking about the various app and their implementations. Since there are so many apps and protocols, I wanted to see if someone here had looked into them and made conclusions about which were better than others. One example: even though Whatsapp and Signal use the same protocol for encryption (so on one level they are equally secure), but they handle metadata differently. Another example: many apps ask for access to my contacts. I didn't use to think much of it. But now I'd like to know why the app needs my contacts, and what else it might do with that information.

Have you looked into the apps I mentioned?
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get_g0ing
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by get_g0ing »

TravelGeek wrote: Sat Dec 01, 2018 12:37 am
AlphaLess wrote: Sat Dec 01, 2018 12:24 am Except that the signal location of that phone will be associated with your physical location.
You don’t need to use Signal on that phone, as far as I know. It is just needed to set up the account. So activate the account with a burner phone on Dec 31 at 11:59pm on Times Square. :)
Haha :)
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get_g0ing
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by get_g0ing »

lazydavid wrote: Sat Dec 01, 2018 7:26 am I've used Threema in the past and been quite happy with it. Be aware that if you don't maintain separate backups of the app (OS-level backups like those from Google/Samsung tools do not work), you cannot recover your identity onto another phone. Discovering that after the replacement of my phone due to a hardware failure, combined with the realization that my chats with my wife don't actually need to be that secure led me to stop using it. But if I had a legitimate need, I'd definitely go back.

One of the things I really like about Threema is the three dot security level indicator, and the fact that you can only get three green dots with someone if you've exchanged identities with them in person, by taking pictures of each other's QR code as displayed on the screen.
Thanks for posting. Did you consider or compare Threema with alternatives? If so, I would be interested in how you decided to go with Threema.

Thank you.
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by lazydavid »

This was years ago, before TextSecure (which later became the signal app) and telegram became a thing. So there weren't a whole lot of options out there to choose from. I did look at a couple of others, but don't remember what they were or whether they even still exist.

Had signal been around, I may have chosen it instead. The protocol is open and elegantly written, and I personally have a lot of faith/trust in its author, Moxie Marlinspike.
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get_g0ing
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by get_g0ing »

lazydavid wrote: Sun Dec 02, 2018 8:42 am This was years ago, before TextSecure (which later became the signal app) and telegram became a thing. So there weren't a whole lot of options out there to choose from. I did look at a couple of others, but don't remember what they were or whether they even still exist.

Had signal been around, I may have chosen it instead. The protocol is open and elegantly written, and I personally have a lot of faith/trust in its author, Moxie Marlinspike.
I did not know that Threema predates Signal.

I wish that along with phone number, Signal implemented a user ID method of signup like Threema.

The other app I'm looking at is Wire, it's FOSS which is good. Even though Wickr is good also, the only option is for messages to auto-destruct. Maybe there is a use case for that, but I like the other approach where you choose if the message should self-destruct or not. Threema does not have any self-destruct option.

Overall, it's looking like there is no perfect app yet.
Joedoehello
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by Joedoehello »

Wickr Pro seems to be the best app. They have free registrations available at the moment, self destruct messages, zero meta data stored and the source code is made available online for third-party audits. Note: wickrme is not open source
Bagels
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by Bagels »

Old thread, but I’m hoping for a follow-up from you, OP.
Have you found the most nearly perfect chat app? What was the single most crucial criterion after anonymity?
get_g0ing wrote: Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:51 pm I'm looking for an encrypted messaging/texting app.

I have been using Signal, Threema, Wire and Telegram to see what I like best.
Haven’t tried Wickr or What’s App

Threema, currently $3, seems to be the ultimate in anonymity. You could even have the app gifted to you from a friend (in iOS, but perhaps not the android PlayStore). No phone number, no email.

Wire is great, and you can get by with an email address (to sign up).

Telegram is reportedly less secure but it’s great for sending impersonal info between devices without plugging in cables.
It’s a nice-looking chat app and great for chatting with friends.
lazydavid wrote: Sun Dec 02, 2018 8:42 am … Had signal been around, I may have chosen it instead. The protocol is open and elegantly written, and I personally have a lot of faith/trust in its author, Moxie Marlinspike.
Signal is what I use the most, although sometimes my outgoing audio messages are glitchy, and I’m not sure why.
Moxie Marlinspike and the history of Signal are fascinating. (There are articles at The Verge and the New Yorker).

As Dieter at The Verge has found, all your iPhone friends are going to keep on using Messages. :-) It just works.
If you have ProtonMail Plus, you probably have access to ProtonDrive now. I never got an announcement, but it's there, in Beta.
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by Elric »

get_g0ing wrote: Sat Dec 01, 2018 12:11 am
TravelGeek wrote: Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:02 pm If you need anonymity with Signal, you can presumably think of a way of getting a phone number that is not linked to you.
I thought about it after your post but decided against it: If I lose my phone or uninstall the app, I would have to have access to that same phone number again if I need to restore my account. I don't want to be responsible for maintaining access to another phone number just for Signal :)

I think I'll prefer an app which is already designed to not need a phone number, like those two I mentioned.
Per this article (https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2020/0 ... ne-number/) while you still need a phone number to activate signal, you can now use a pin (which can be long and complex if you want), rather than that original number to restore your account.
"the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence." Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis
MBB_Boy
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by MBB_Boy »

Just make sure the app isn't actually the government in disguise

https://www.zdnet.com/article/how-the-f ... stigation/
roamingzebra
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Re: Encrypted messaging: Threema vs Wickr

Post by roamingzebra »

This is an old thread so it should probably be updated to report that Wickr has been recently bought out by Amazon. Before that happened, the app routinely sent out metadata to third parties like Microsoft, Google as well as Amazon. The encryption technology is considered fine, but if you don't want Amazon to have your metadata and have it potentially be sold to third parties, don't use it. I don't use a messaging app myself, but I do recall listening to a podcast that discussed the issue.
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