Apple likes to say it’s more focused on user privacy and security than the competition, but do those claims really hold up? According to a new study by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) they do, with iMessage and FaceTime outperforming competing services from Google, Facebook, Microsoft and BlackBerry when it comes to secure messaging.
The report, which covers a wide range of messaging services, praises iMessage and FaceTime as the “best of the mass-market options,” but notes that neither of Apple’s applications provide total security. The EFF judged each service on seven criteria, with only a handful of smaller security-focused companies earning a perfect score.
FaceTime and iMessage managed to score a 5 out of 7, falling short on the ability to verify contacts’ identities and being open to independent review. By comparison, BlackBerry’s BBM scored a dismal 1 out of 7, and even BlackBerry Protected only hit 3 out of 7 criteria. Facebook Messenger scored a 2 out of 7, as did WhatsApp (also owned by Facebook), Skype (owned by Microsoft) and Snapchat. Even Google Hangouts in “off the record” mode scored just 2 out of 7.
The big takeaway here may be that no a single mainstream messaging app is truly secure. If privacy is a priority, you’re better off with a niche service like Silent Text or TextSecure, but if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of security for convenience, Apple seems to offer a solid middle ground.