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Everything you should know about Signal

December 30, 2019

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To put it out loud, Signal is the best encrypted messengers available, that provides end-to-end encryption. With features like robust security, storing minimal information about the users, and absolutely free to use. Switching to Signal is probably the best decision  as using conventional messenger can be quite daunting when it comes to data privacy, so to guide you more about it, let’s start it right away to guide you about the entire process.

A lot of new features have been added to the application as Signal continues to grow. Along with adding new techniques of keeping the conversations private, the encrypted application also adds various features to make it easy for the people to switch and enjoy enhanced communications. However, just like any other messaging service, Signal user needs a recipient to use the app for taking full advantage of the features.

This article will help you figure out more about Signal in order to get the most out of it. Also, with the best encrypted messaging application you will enjoy complete security and data privacy of users.

Downloading Signal’s Latest Version

The initial step is making sure that you have the latest version of Signal Messenger. The application gets continuously updated, while adding new features to the platform. The easy way out for accomplishing this is to go to the app store to update the application, or install it if you are not using it already. To update Signal check whether the “Open” button have been replaced with “Update” option on the listing.

Signing Up with Your registered Phone Number

The way your app appears depends upon the operating system you use. For Android devises, a popup appears that informs you to give Signal the access to phone’s contacts, calls and storage for the application to work. Once, the “Continue,” option has been selected, series of permission prompts appears for which you need to choose the accept button, and after which, you will be transferred to the signup screen.

For iPhones, the signup screen is visible right away, without any need to give Signal-specific permissions.

Then, Signal asks for your phone number to “Register.”

Fill out your personal information, after which you can select the “Save” option to complete the setup process.

Setting Signal as the Default messaging Application

When you access the main page of Android, a popup appears asking whether you would like to set Signal as your default SMS application. Select the option to make the most private messenger as your default SMS application. By making this change, you get to manage both the Signal messages and regular texts within one single application.

Inviting your Friends and simply confiscate the Invite Banner

For iOS users, Signal doesn’t offer regular SMS management. In its place, the only message sharing possible is for Signal users. This is the reason, it is best to invite your friends and family to become Signal users, for protecting data privacy.

For Android, choose the 3 vertical dots in the upper right corner, and then go to the sub-menu, to select the “Invite” friends’ option.  Going to the next page, after which you can select the “Choose Contacts” option. Choose from your contacts list for those who you want to become a Signal user. After selecting the option, choose the “Send SMS to X Friends” button, where X represents the number of contacts you have selected.

There is another way to select the invite friends option for starting a conversation with other user via traditional SMS (this feature is only available for Android). There appears an option below the name in a blue banner that asks you for Inviting users to Signal for communications between contacts who are not using Signal. Select the banner which will create a message to be shared to the respective contact, where the message includes a link for installing the application on their device.

Even though this prompting message can become quite annoying, after a while, especially for the contacts that are saved and you are sure about them not switching their messaging application. Well, the good news is that, you can easily remove it. Choose the 3 vertical dots available in the upper-right corner of the page and then select the “Settings”, where you can choose the “Chats and media” option for disabling the pin next to “Show invitation prompts.” This pin removes the blue banner from all the contacts, who are not Signal users. This feature is exclusively for Android, as the iOS version is not compatible for communicating with the non-Signal users.

Setting up the Automatic Backups (for Android)

Signal is independent platform and not makes use of any iOS’s, Android’s or iCloud Google Drive services primarily due to its privacy concerns. Hence, switching to another phone, won’t let you existing chats to get transferred automatically.

But for Android, there is a good news. Yes! By creating a local stored end-to-end encrypted backup, all the messages tend to remain private and safe, that can be restored, while you switch the phones. The feature will automatically enable the backup option. While you cannot control how all these things occur, even when they are located, the feature does it frequent enough, such that if you tend to forget creating a backup, making use of the automatic backup files gives a recent copy of all your device’s messages.

Improving the Security

While Signal is secure, end-to-end encrypted message sharing platform, improving security via some advanced features makes a big difference for Android users, select the 3 vertical dots situated in the upper-right corner choosing the Settings option. For iOS, select the picture of the user, next is to choose Privacy.

Under “Privacy” menu, you can find different options to improve the security, where the first is “Screen lock” option, requiring authentication to access Signal using fingerprint or face scanner or the lock code. Select the toggle situated next to Screen lock for activating the feature.

You get to adjust the time before Signal gets locked and need the validation using “Screen lock inactivity timeout” feature. For users seeking maximum security, the minimum time for Android is 1 minute. After setting it, you can leave the application for a minute, and it will be locked to require authentication for seeing the messages. For iOS users, you can select the instant option get the app locked as soon as you leave Signal.

Another one for improving the security is Screen security. This blocks previewing the application in the recent apps list. For Android devises, it also restricts the user from taking screenshots. Since Android users can enjoy third-party keyboards, Signal offers another feature, for data privacy i.e. the “Incognito keyboard.” This protects Gboard from learning your text patterns. Since a keyboard application must capture every word inputted, this feature protects the conversation from being accessed by any malicious application. Do keep in mind that the feature disables voice typing.

Signal enables you to share messages, along with making audio and video calls, offering the same level of protection. However, phone calls expose your IP address to the respective caller. While assuming that you trust people available in your contacts, even any friend of yours can gain unauthorized access to the information to execute a data attack. But, enabling the “Always relay calls” option in Privacy menu, making all the calls go through the application’s servers first, in order to protect the real IP address in case the data gets leaked.

Finally, enabling the “Registration Lock” adds an extra layer of data protection for any new device registered to the phone number with the use of PIN code. When your device registers with the phone number, you can receive all the messages. This feature takes care of all the privacy.

Hide Notifications

For those who want real privacy, you need to hide the Signal notifications. All the communications alerts appears on lock screen, visible to everyone without even unlocking the phone.

Improving the messages

Signal recently added new features for bridging the gap between users and messaging. This include features like typing indicators, read receipt, Send Link Preview, showing a preview of the website linked to a chat. All these features are available under the Privacy menu in settings option of Signal.

“Read Receipts” enables a visual confirmation of when the recipient has read the message. Given both the sender and the recipient have “Read Receipts” feature enabled, any message sent will have a circle with check mark next when sent. When the message gets delivered, there will be two circles appearing in the chat. Once the message has been read, both the circles turns gray.

Typing Indicator allows you to see a recipient typing a message. Dots appears to indicate that the user is typing a message currently.

The feature of Disappearing Messages

An essential part of secure messaging is the feature of sending disappearing messages. Such messages are shared with an expiration timer which you get to assign before sharing the message. Once set, it gets deleted on its own upon getting the set time.

When you share a disappearing message, it automatically converts all the future messages in the respective conversation to disappearing message feature. On the other hand, receiving any disappearing message prompts an option of changing the set time length. But, it won’t change the previous messages. You also get the facility of ending these messages altogether.

Verification of the Contacts

It is very common that a user switches his phone making an opportunity for a hacker to exploit your communications. By either learning your contact number or those of people you chat with, an intruder can easily register a new device to continue the communications. With the feature of safety numbers, Signal shields you from such attacks allowing the verification of the person you are sharing the communication with.

Either By scanning the QR code or matching the safety number, you get to verify a contact. After verifying, any change can be made manually by getting it approved by the recipient before sharing a new text.

Blocking Users is necessary

Blocking a random user helps in preventing you from receiving any new messages from him along with restricting you from sharing new messages to him).

Even if you unblock, you won’t receive the communications shared when the user was blocked. In its place, you will receive new messages allowing you to share messages with him again.

And with all these spectacular facts, you can enjoy using Signal-the private messenger. Remember that end-to-end encryption is a boon for data privacy, so for taking full advantage of the feature, it is best to use Signal.

So what are you waiting for? Download Signal now!

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