Are you switching to Signal?

For some years now almost the entire world has been using WhatsApp thanks to it being the leading secure messaging platform. However, that is all changing  due to a slowness on the part of its owner Facebook to introduce multi-device access.

Zak Doffman comments that this has been made worse by “the fast-moving convergence of messaging and calls—and with WhatsApp calls still tied to a phone, rather than an easier-to-use large screen device, it’s becoming a major stumbling block.”

Facebook tried to rectify this by launching the cross-platform Messenger Rooms, but these don’t offer end-to-end encryption. So, as Doffman says, it isn’t an ideal way to communicate if your information is sensitive or confidential.

Admittedly, WhatsApp does do a good job of securing voice and video calls from its iPhone and Android apps, and you can now have up to eight people on a call. It also has a desktop app in the pipeline, but it’s all a bit too late.

The super secure Signal platform is beating WhatsApp. It has already started beta testing one-to-one video and voice calls from its desktop app. Group calls are not available yet, but they won’t be far away, as Signal’s recent announcement would seem to indicate: “We think that calls need to zoom out of the past and into the future, and your feedback will help us get there.” Obviously this was aimed at Zoom, which dominated work and personal conversations during lockdown.

“This release is one of the first steps towards our goal of enabling secure voice and video calls that are available on all of your devices,” Signal says, adding, “in addition to being end-to-end encrypted and free for everyone to use.”

However, Doffman points out that Signal isn’t really that concerned about Zoom,  it is WhatsApp that is the real target. And it is picking up traction with those who don’t really trust Facebook for messaging. The only downsides of Signal at the moment are first, the number of users is relatively small at the moment, and second, there are no backups yet, so if you lose your device, you lose your messages.

The recent protests in the USA and Hong Kong have highlighted the need for a more secure messaging by anyone concerned about interception, metadata or tracking. What’s more Signal is chasing WhatsApps users and is ahead of the game. If WhatsApp wants to retain its No.1 position, it needs to implement end-to-end encrypted back-ups and linked devices. Not used Signal yet? Why not install it on your phone and try it now.

Don’t Sell Your Startup App Too Soon

Entrepreneurs love to sell an idea. Once they see that an idea has got some traction, they have a strong urge to pitch and sell it in the early stages. However, that is a mistake, as Abdo Riani explains. 

He suggests that rather than trying to sell, entrepreneurs should instead be “listening to your customers’ needs and developing deep insights that can shape your startup idea into a viable product.” He also suggests that once you can get customers asking about your value proposition, “then selling will not only be easy, it will be unnecessary.”

The steps to success

First, it is obvious that the early customers are likely to be a competitor’s customers. What they will want to know is how does your app compete on three things: cost versus value, strong brand, and or unique solution.

Riani says, “If you’re going to offer superior value at the same price, you need to figure out the problems your competitors’ customers face using those solutions.” In other words, look for the gap you can fill.

Second, discover your customers’ most urgent needs. Riani says, “A simple yet effective approach is to build a Customer Advisory Board comprised of your most engaged early buyers.” You’ll gather insights you wouldn’t get with a simple survey or interview.

He also points out: “As a rule of thumb, if customers can gain ten times more from your solution than it would cost them to cancel their existing contracts and memberships, your product becomes your most important, maybe only, sales tool.”

Third, your app solution must be irresistible to the consumer. Even though the first version of an app may not be the complete vision of what you want it to do, Riani suggests “you can focus on introducing high-impact features that delight and WOW the customer.”

You can do this even in a highly competitive market by focusing on a niche segment and tailoring the product to the needs of consumers in that sector. That alone can give your app the WOW factor.

Ultimately, the secret of success for startup app lies in “building a product customers cannot refuse to try, use, and recommend, even in the presence of solid competitors.”

If entrepreneurs follow this advice, they will have no need to sell their startup app at the beginning of its journey.

Stop using SMS for private messages

We all need to up our online security game, which is why I read a recent article by Zak Doffman, a cybersecurity expert, with great interest. He has advised his followers to stop using Facebook Messenger and switch to WhatsApp for security reasons. This is interesting because Facebook also owns WhatsApp, but the difference between the app and Messenger is one of security.

WhatsApp has end-to-end encryption. It’s so secure that as Doffman says, “lawmakers actually want weaknesses introduced to help them investigate crimes.” And if you think that perhaps Apple iMessage and SMS—including Google Messages –are safe, then Doffman says, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no.

Most messaging from your devices is encrypted, but the security depends on who holds the encryption keys. Doffman states, “When you end-to-end encrypt data or messages, keys are only held by the two (or multiple) endpoints of that link—you and the person you’re messaging, for example.” So, with WhatsApp, it can’t read what you send, which is the bonus, and it can be trusted to keep your messages safe and secure.

By contrast, Facebook’s Messenger is not end-to-end encrypted by default. Even Facebook recommended using WhatsApp instead of Messenger. Why don’t they fix the problem with Messenger you may ask? Well, apparently it’s technically complex.

SMS messages are another issue. Did you know “When you send an SMS, while it might be secure between your phone and your network, once there it can be easily intercepted and collected?” This makes SMS child’s play for hackers who can target senders and recipients. On the other hand, SMS is available on every single phone in the world, hence it’s popularity. However, it is used for “longer messages, MMS attachments, financial details, private data, sensitive information,” and that is where problems lie.

Whichever service you use, whether Apple or Android, there are SMS messages you will need to still receive—one time security codes, for example. But beyond texts from service providers, with security codes etc, you should not use SMS for your own private messages – stick to WhatsApp, or if you want even more security, use Signal, which is the app of choice for many working in the Cybersecurity sector.