How safe is Telegram to use?
How safe is telegram or the other apps at all? Of course there is always a never-ending catching up between various app services like Telegram and Whatsapp. Of course you also come as an alternative Signal and Threema in return for.
The first is that almost all modern messengers switched to encrypted data exchange between devices and the servers a long time ago. That is also the absolute minimum that every app should offer. People often experience that it is not enough to consider an app like Telegram as safe, since it does not guarantee total (eavesdropping) protection.
Why is that? Well, if not only participants who send messages, but also, for example, the owner of the service has access to chats, then that naturally entails additional risks. Employees of the service can then read along out of curiosity or think of a hacker who gains access. Even if a company, like Telegram, gives guarantees not to. That does not mean that a possible new owner will subsequently do so. For example, think about the takeover of Whatsapp by Meta, which caused all users to switch en masse because of the same fear.
There is a very effective way to avoid all these dangers and that is to use end-to-end encryption. This ensures that information is encrypted on the sender's device and decrypted only on the recipient's device. As such, the app only sends encrypted messages back and forth and cannot access the content. This automatically protects correspondence from prying eyes and other problems, such as security holes, that may occur.
How safe is Telegram really if you know this?
It has been rumored for some time that Telegram only offers this end-to-end encryption in the secret chats. That is not somewhat true! The secret chats do indeed offer even better encryption and options, so we always recommend using this. But encryption in the groups is indeed used, only a lighter variant than, for example, Whatsapp, Signal and Threema do.
Are you especially asking if who can actually read along in chats by default if it is not fully encrypted?
- The employees of the company of the app itself
- The government if they want to request it
- When a hacker gains higher level access
To put this in perspective for the common people among us, try to see it like before.
You sent a postcard from your holiday address with a text and nice drawings (remember?) to your parents, grandmother or others. That was of course read by everyone who gets their hands on the card. The person who empties the mail, the people at the sorting center, the postman himself, the neighbor who accidentally gets it in the mail and of course the real recipient.
You send a letter in a closed envelope to your parents, grandmother or others. That is of course more difficult to read what you have written. But certainly still possible by the person who actually opens the envelope. The prison guard for example if you send it from prison. The neighbor who accidentally gets it on the bus and opens the envelope without looking, while you don't know it.
You send a letter in a sealed envelope, registered and with a special legal courier service. You then know for sure that only the person to whom you send it actually opens and reads the message.
And this is exactly the whole thing. How many times have you sent a postcard? Did you rely on sending a letter? How many registered letters have you sent? Precisely! The latter probably only when you really had to send something important.
Ok so actually just safe enough just like sending a letter?
Exactly that, safe enough to do all your communication as long as you realize that if it's really important then just don't send it through an app like Telegram. Because it is also an issue for all other apps.
In short, although in theory it is possible to communicate securely in Telegram through secret chats, in practice it is not so simple. Since most people always take the path of least resistance, they end up using regular chats because as always the ruling applies 'convenience serves people'.
But what about that end-to-end encryption?
Everyone apparently has the desire to communicate through only 'registered letters'. I understand very well that certain target groups really want that, think of criminals, terrorists, governments, journalists and so on.
It 'funny' I personally think that the Dutch government indicates that it wants to continue to allow strong encryption, other European member states have varying views on this issue. Russia and the US are also against strong encryption.
So just keep in mind that you will run into the fact that the app you are using is simply not allowed to offer end-to-end encryption anymore. And which app is the only one that doesn't have to do anything, precisely Telegram.