Encryption and the Caveats That Often Go Unnoticed

Kanchi Vasavada

By : Kanchi Vasavada

Encryption and the Caveats That Often Go Unnoticed1

As of 2020, even those of us who didn’t rely on gadgets to do our jobs have had to. The future arrived and made itself obvious. How it arrived is questionable. But without digressing further, let’s dig into the means of communication we use and what we should know about it. 

For Apple’s iPhone users, iMessage has been popularly end-to-end encrypted. But that only works when everyone on the chat is on the iPhone. That green bubble text is not encrypted. And before you get into a green bubble and blue bubble snide remark showdown, you should also know that Apple quietly opened the backdoor to your blue bubbles. 

iMessage gets uploaded to iCloud. And that one is definitely not encrypted.

On the other side, Android has a Messages app that is now pushing RCS, Rich Communication Standard instead of SMS. RCS lets you exchange more than just text, including, better photos, videos, location, reactions, read receipts, etc. It’s richer. Here the caveat is that not all Android devices are the same. A number of phones, like the Samsung phones, come with their own messaging app and people simply use that. 

Encryption is slowly coming to this new RCS enabled app. All you have to do is use this particular Android app, get your friends and family to use it as well. iMessage still doesn’t use the RCS, so Android and iOS people talking to each other is still an open window. 

That covers the texting part of the communication tools we use. Now for the pandemic special, Zoom. 

Zoom saw an unprecedented rise this year. It got Microsoft and Google to sit up and take notice. It forced them to get their act together. Zoom became a household name and a necessity. Everyone has been holding meetings, Friday town halls, happy hour, classes, and game nights on it. You accept a meeting link and your colleagues are right there with you, in a conference room without walls. Our faces have been on the internet, unencrypted. Even if you lived in a cave before Zoom life, now the internet knows you. (This paragraph is dramatized to emphasize the need for ETEE.)

After a LOT of challenges, however, Zoom is finally enabling ETEE. It is not entirely here yet but it will get here. Eventually, and of course with a few caveats

The point here is that uncertain and changing times sometimes provide quick, almost hassle-free and free solutions. They will never say what they are taking from you in return. As a consumer, be aware of what your technology demands of you. Just like you would lock your front door, dig a little deeper into the software you use to maintain your cybersecurity. After all, we are spending more time online with closed doors right now.

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