Are your text messages private and secure with Messages? No. Why not? They are encrypted, but anyone with access to your iPhone, Mac, or iPad has access to those Messages’ messages. There are a few holes in Messages and Apple could make it more like other text messaging platforms.
Kill Me Now
The first problem with Messages is obvious. Yes, Messages is end-to-end encrypted, but anyone with access to your device has access to Messages. It isn’t blocked. Apple could add another layer of security to allow access to the app itself. Law enforcement may not be able to get to the message but they can get to the metadata which is not encrypted and remains on iCloud. Big Brother can figure out who you’ve been texting and when.
The second problem with Messages is less obvious but frighteningly obvious when you think about it. Messages, as actual text messages to or from someone, can be stored as long as you choose, thereby creating an incriminating trail.
Chris IP went through the list of the most prevalent and popular text messaging systems so you can see a few of the pros and cons of what he called The Safest Messaging Apps. The most used messaging apps have similar problems to Messages (notoriously missing from the list).
Fortunately, Chris’ choice for the benchmark in text messaging is the one I use for important messages (avoid anything connected with Facebook; Messenger, WhatsApp, and anything connected with China (WeChat).
Besides developing the benchmark end-to-end encryption protocol, Signal is generally the privacy advocate’s choice of most-secure messenger app. Chats are fully encrypted by default, as is metadata like who you’re talking to. Messages can be set to self destruct and can be sent anonymously.
Signal has what Apple needs in Messages. Text, group text, audio, video, documents, and images. No fees. Totally free. Everything is encrypted end-to-end and messages can be set to be destroyed after an increment of time. For everyone. Even group texts. Even the standard audit trail; on each device and on Signal servers.
That’s privacy and security. Why doesn’t Apple do the same thing with Messages?